Human Interest

2 Female elephants arrive at Brazil sanctuary after long trip from Argentina

Rio de Janeiro, May 12 (EFE).- Elephant Sanctuary Brazil on Thursday welcomed a pair of female Asian elephants that had been living at a zoo in the west-central Argentine province of Mendoza.

Pocha and Guillermina arrived at their new home after a carefully planned, five-day road journey in which they were transported by truck inside two giant containers over a distance of 3,228 kilometers (2,000 miles).

“They’re home now. They arrived in good shape, and now we’ll start the long process of unloading them by crane and then (begin the process) of adaptation,” a spokesperson for that sanctuary in Chapada dos Guimaraes, a municipality in the west-central state of Mato Grosso, told Efe.

Pocha, 65, and her 23-year-old daughter, Guillermina, will now spend the rest of their days on 1,100 hectares (2,715 acres) of hills and small valleys, a refuge whose grassy plains and slopes are similar to the African and Asian ecosystems that are the natural habitats of those giant mammals.

The two had previously lived in a cement pit at the Mendoza EcoParque, a zoo where the mother had resided since the age of three and the daughter since birth.

The special truck that transported them to Brazil was the same one used to relocate Mara, a female elephant that formerly lived at Ecoparque Buenos Aires and has been at the Brazilian refuge since May 2020.

After an adaptation period, Pocha and Guillermina will join Mara and four other female Asian elephants – Rana, Maia, Lady and Bambi – that now reside at the sanctuary after several decades working in circuses or housed in zoos.

According to the sanctuary’s directors, 39 other elephants are currently living in zoos in South America.

Elephant Sanctuary Brazil was founded in 2015 to take in elephants from circuses and zoos and provide them a spacious area of natural vegetation surrounded by steel fencing.

The sanctuary has no electrical systems or barbed wire that might injure the elephants, who share that ecosystem with other animal species.

The transportation stage was relatively stress-free because Pocha and Guillermina had several weeks prior to the start of the trip to adapt to the containers, which are five meters (16 feet) long, two meters wide and 3.2 meters tall.

The truck, which was escorted by police and several elephant specialists, departed on Saturday from the Mendoza EcoParque and took five days to reach Mato Grosso since stops were made every three hours to feed the elephants, allow them a chance to rest and monitor their condition.

The caravan entered Brazil through the border city of Foz do Iguacu, where Brazilian law enforcement took over the escorting duties from their Argentine counterparts.

After the arrival of these latest two female elephants, the sanctuary now is awaiting permission from Argentine authorities to transport another Asian elephant – a 50-year-old male named Tamy who is Guillermina’s father.

Elephant Sanctuary Brazil is a project long in the making that took tangible form in 2016.

It is the initial project of Global Sanctuary for Elephants, a United States-based non-profit headed by Scott Blais, co-founder of an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee that is the largest of its kind in North America. EFE


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