and to ensure that a sanctuary for elephants is established .
One might ask, Why Brazil?
Brazil offers: a perfect climate for elephants; the possibility of obtaining a suitable sized parcel of land with habitat permitting natural foraging and social behavior; the potential to provide a home to the many elephants who are suffering in South America; a team of energized, committed people who want to work hard for the best interest of elephants.
The dire need for an alternative to life in circuses
To get a sanctuary in Brazil up and running has been key to discussions about how to end the suffering of elephants currently in circuses and bad zoos. Without a good alternative in place for elephants in need of a new home, it would have been difficult to move the political process forward. Junia and her team keep learning as much as possible about captive elephants in Brazil and elsewhere in South America - many of whom are kept under terrible conditions. ElephantVoices believes that there are about 24 elephants held in Brazilian zoos, and a few held in circuses or chained on rural properties. One of the performing circus elephants, Semba, died in 2012. Another, Lady, was more recently donated to a small zoo, due to the increasing pressure against the use of animals in Brazilian circuses.
In collaboration with Scott Blais (Co-Founder of The Elephant Sanctuary), The Elephant Sanctuary (TES), Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), Elephant Nature Park, Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary and other with sanctuary experience we have for some time been moving forward toward bringing an elephant sanctuary in Brazil to fruition. With the establishment of Global Sanctuary for Elephants in late 2013, where ElephantVoices is a founding partner, a major step was taken toward this important goal.
With the purchase of a stunning 2800 acre property in Chapada dos Guimarães, Mato Grosso, in June 2015, the project reached a key milestone. Read more about this here. Santuário de Elefantes Brasil received its first two elephants, Maia and Guida, in October 2016, which created headlines around the world. You'll find quite a few through a search on Google - "Brazil opens Latin America's first elephant sanctuary". A sanctuary in Brazil will operate with the Sanctuary for Elephants - Overall Principles, developed by ElephantVoices, as a foundation.
Triggered by the faith of Teresita
Junia Machado's interest in elephants was triggered when she was eight years old. She began to take photographs of elephants in 2005 to call attention to their plight. When Junia saw Teresita in São Paulo Zoo some years ago, she made up her mind to do her best for elephants and contacted ElephantVoices. Since then she has built up a network of people volunteering time and energy for elephants. Together with co-volunteer Ana Zinger in Rio de Janeiro and Ticiana Carneiro in São Paulo she started blogging on ElephantVoices Brasil in 2010 and then launched ElephantVoices Brasil on Facebook. In addition to news related to captive elephants in Brasil, and hand-picked news from around the world, Junia and her Brazilian team post material and news from ElephantVoices.org, all translated into Portuguese. In 2014 Junia took the position as CEO of Santuário de Elefantes Brasil - working closely with Scott and Kat Blais in Global Sanctuary for Elephants for the establishment and further development of the elephant sanctuary in Chapada dos Guimarães.
Junia and Ana have met up with Petter and Joyce in Kenya and the Maasai Mara on a couple of occasions, and in March 2012 they all joined the PAWS Summit for Elephants hosted by Oakland Zoo. Petter has also met with Junia, Ana and other team members in Brazil.
Collaboration and networking
Some of our collaborators in Brazil are Luciano Tessare Bopp, Teca Franco, Celia Frattini, Adriana Greco, Junia Machado, Ruby Malzoni, Daniel Moura, Maria Cristina Mullins, Carol Toledo, Martha Toledo, João Paiva and Ana Zinger. There are also other volunteers supporting our efforts on specific issues.
ElephantVoices Brasil is also networking with a substantial number of people who work for elephants in other countries in South-America and elsewhere, and aims to contribute ideas and the science-based knowledge of ElephantVoices wherever it can be of help.