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After Decades of Confinement Mother and Daughter Elephants on Their Way to Freedom

Mother and daughter Elephants confined to concrete pit at Mendoza EcoParque before their rescue this week by Global Sanctuary for Elephants and transport to Elephants Sanctuary Brazil

Pocha and Guillermina at Mendoza EcoParque

The lush landscape , watering hole, and rescued elephants at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil

Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, new home for Pocha and Guillermina

Elephants enjoy a fresh fruit and leaf snack from their transport crates while taking a break from the journey to sanctuary

Pocha and Guillermina receive fresh food while taking a break from the journey to sanctuary

Elephants Pocha and Guillermina are making their way from Argentina to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil this week.

This is one of those scenarios where you really have no words because it is the beginning of a new life; everything from this point forward is profoundly different,”
— Scott Blais, CEO and President of Global Sanctuary for Elephants

BRENTWOOD, TN, UNITED STATES, May 11, 2022 / -- Mother and Daughter female Asian elephants Pocha and Guillermina, who were housed at the Mendoza ecopark in Argentina, are currently being transported to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil (ESB) after a years-long effort by Global Sanctuary for Elephants, a US based organization, and their supporters. On April 26, 2022 Argentina’s Minister of the Environment and Sustainability signed their final CITES permit that allowed for their travel into Brazil.

Pocha, age 55, has lived at the Mendoza facility since 1968, and Guillermina, age 22, was born there. Both live in a below-ground concrete enclosure that only allows them to see the sky above. Guillermina has never set foot outside of this man-made home and has never seen the sun setting on the horizon. That will change this week with their arrival at sanctuary.

Elephant Sanctuary Brazil is the initial project founded by Global Sanctuary for Elephants, a non-profit organization founded to assist in relocating captive elephants across the globe to wild-habitat sanctuaries. Created in 2013 by co-founder Scott Blais, a leading expert with over 30 years of experience in captive elephant care and natural habitat sanctuary development and operation; combined with Katherine Blais, who has over 20 years of experience in daily elephant care and wellbeing, the caregiving team at ESB has experience in specialized medicine and elephant sanctuary management. The addition of Pocha and Guillermina, who will join the 5 female Asian elephants currently at the 2,800 acre facility, will bring the total number of rescued elephants to 9.

“This is one of those scenarios where you really have no words because it is the beginning of a new life; everything from this point forward is profoundly different,” said Scott Blais. “For Pocha specifically, I’m excited that she will see her daughter witness life in a way that she’s never been able to, and for Guillermina, I’m personally eager to watch her explore a whole new existence. She is the elephant who has been the most confined, the most constrained, the most imprisoned of any elephant that I’ve ever seen. Of all of the rescues and relocations that we have done, this one, with mom and daughter, carries tremendous expectation for a transformative future."

The transport of Pocha and Guillermina would not be possible without the support of and initiative taken both by the government of Mendoza and the Mendoza Ecoparque, who sought the best homes for these elephants - and have done the same for approximately 1,800 other animals, to date. GSE is appreciative of the admirable and progressive work that those in Mendoza, and in Argentina as a whole, have done on an official level, and also thank the Argentinian community for their support in moving the two elephants to sanctuary.

Supporters can sign up to receive text message updates from the road and follow their progress on a map, as Pocha and Guillermina make the more than 2,200 mile trip from Argentina to Brazil, by visiting


About Global Sanctuary for Elephants
The mission of Global Sanctuary for Elephants, a US-based 501(c)3 organization, is protecting, rescuing, and providing sanctuary for elephants worldwide. Our pilot project, Elephant Sanctuary Brazil - currently one of only three elephant sanctuaries worldwide with Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) Accreditation - is the only elephant sanctuary in South America. For more information, or to make a donation please visit and follow GSE on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Rebecca Rodriguez
Global Sanctuary for Elephants
+1 615-435-9523
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Compilation Video of Day Two of Elephants being transported from Argentina to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil