Anteat Cecilia, award winner 2022

Wild Animal Personality Award 2022

Cecília was the Unique Wild Animal Personality Award 2022 winner!

Cecília, is a young giant anteater who lives in a rehabilitation centre, Orphans of Fire, supported by Instituto Tamanduá in Pantanal, Brazil. The team describe her as a very charismatic, gentle, and clever anteater.

They are all individuals

This award celebrates animals’ personalities while raising awareness that they should not be objectified and seen as mere commodities.

"Hopefully, soon enough Cecília will be taking her bath in a watering puddle or river free in nature." - Flávia Miranda, Foundress and president.

She loves to play with her friend, Darlan, and to destroy termite mounds! Her favourite hobby is taking baths while she relaxes, washes her fur, and scratches her neck.

She has been cared for by the centre after she was orphaned when her mother died during Pantanal fires. Cecília is being prepared for release in the wild, hopefully this winter.

What the award means for Instituto Tamandua

Instituto Tamandua’s Orphans of Fire project started in 2021. The prize money from the award will be used for new infrastructure at the centre and to buy a vehicle. This will help the team monitor the anteaters once they are fully rehabilitated and released.

"We are grateful to World Animal Protection and everyone who voted. Also, we want to congratulate all the other institutions that participated in the award on their amazing work with animals who have such great personalities. Thank you all very much, and remember animals have unique personalities and should not be treated as commodities or exploited" - Maria Helena Mazzoni Baldini, Instituto Tamanduá Veterinarian.

This is one of the most important aspects of their work. They need to make sure that the anteaters are healthy and adapting to their new lives in nature. Once Cecília and her fellow anteaters are ready to be released, they will be fitted with a special GPS collar so they can be followed.

Anteaters can roam long distances, so the vehicle will help the team to track them. It will also be used to transport animals and supplies.

Find out more about Instituto Tamandua

Keep up to date with the Instituto Tamandua on Instagram

Meet the 2022 finalists

Meet Gandhi at Elephant Haven

Name: Gandhi
Age: 54 years
Sex: Female
Animal: Asian elephant
Location: Elephant Haven European Elephant Sanctuary, France

Who is Gandhi?

On 14th October 2021, Gandhi arrived at @EHEES to retire. She enjoys her morning walk after sleeping in the barn when the sun shines through the windows. She loves to climb the hills, enjoy her dry nettles, and stay outside in the dark.

Everything happens of her own free will

Gandhi is always enthusiastic when we give her medical care. Everything happens of her own free will, and she can always choose to walk away, but when we try something new or do it differently, you can see her hesitating and hear her rumbling - she seems to doubt whether to accept it or not. Usually, she then suddenly takes the courageous step and goes for it!

What work does Elephant Haven do?

Elephant Haven is a sanctuary for zoo and circus elephants. As more and more European countries ban wild animals in circuses, we want to help because relocating elephants back to their country of origin is not always possible - while creating a haven for them is possible. We offer elephants a place for life where they are socialised and rehabilitated.

Meet Ina at Libearty Sanctuary

Name: Ina
Age: 28 years
Sex: Female
Animal: Bear
Location: Libearty Sanctuary -  Asociația Milioane de Prieteni (AMP)

Who is Ina?

“Ina is an abused bear that we saved in 2014. Thanks to the natural environment and the other bears, she is finally rehabilitated after 20 years of suffering. Ina is playful and likes to tease the wolves in her enclosure, who often play along!

She can be seen running around, climbing the trees, swimming and enjoying her life among other bears. She touches the hearts of all our team and all visitors who learn about her happy ending.”

What work does AMP do?

“Libearty sanctuary (AMP) was built for wild animals who have lived in circuses or dirty cages for years. We are already known all over the world and are asked to help wild animals from other countries. For example, we opened the gates for the wild animals in danger in Ukraine. Bears and wolves were received in the sanctuary and now have a new and safe home among the animals we care for.”

Meet Pearl at the Elephant Valley Project

Name: Pearl (Gee Pael)
Age: 35 years
Sex: Female
Animal: Asian elephant
Location: Elephant Valley Project, Cambodia

Pearl the Elephant at Elephant Valley Project, Cambodia

Who is Pearl?

“Previously working in logging, Pearl was rescued in 2013 and was stressed, slightly aggressive and exhibited male elephant behaviours. She would charge into the herd, roar, trumpet, stomp her feet, generally causing a raucous. However, she soon started to show a softer side, always looking for reassurance from the matriarch Ning Wan, while also having great forest skills and loving the water. She was truly at home in the sanctuary.

The most surprising and unique quality that Pearl has displayed is the absolutely amazing unconditional motherly love she has for her new baby, Diamond. The new baby has brought out a whole new side to Pearl. We have seen her fall completely in love with her baby, calmly guiding her through the forest, waiting for her every step of the way, even when she is clearly getting under foot or interrupting her mud bathing time.

Let elephants just be elephants

Animals can show us the true meaning of love! When they have the opportunity to return to their natural environment, they get to express all of their instinctual behaviours towards each other, without humans interfering. Let elephants just be elephants!”

Note from Elephant Valley Project: “We do not encourage breeding elephants into a life of captivity. Diamond was the product of a brief encounter with a wild bull elephant, and we're now committed to providing as best as we can for her.”

What work does Elephant Valley Project do?

“Our aim is to improve the health and welfare of the captive elephants in Mondulkiri Province, work to conserve the wild elephant’s natural habitat and to support the local people who work with these magnificent creatures.

We run a number of programs and projects in Mondulkiri to help achieve our goals, including an elephant research and monitoring program, mobile veterinarian program an indigenous community-based organisation assistance program, and an ecotourism project that provides an alternative approach to elephant care, rehabilitation and conservation.”

Meet Gen Thong at Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary

Name: Gen Thong (pronounced Gen Tong)
Age: 10 years old
Sex: Male
Animal: Elephant
Location: Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary, Thailand

Gen Thong plays with vines, trees, other elephants

Who is Gen Thong?

Meet the youngest elephant in our herd, Gen Thong! Gen Thong didn’t have a great start in life, he was orphaned at two years old when his mother was killed by a wasp attack in a horrific incident whilst they were living in a tourist camp. Gen Thong managed to survive this attack, but he sadly lost his mother at a young age. He then spent the next two years living and working in this camp as a tourist attraction, often confined and showing unpredictable behaviour most likely due to the trauma he had experienced by the loss of his mother.

Cheeky and playful

In 2016, we started up Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary and brought Gen Thong, his grandmother, his aunt and his friend home to live in their natural forest environment. This was when his cheeky and playful personality began to shine, and he was finally able to be an elephant and live with his family. His aunt Mae Doom became a mother-figure for him and raised him until he started to become more independent. He now spends his days roaming the forest with his family, playing with vines, trees, other elephants and anything else he can find in his natural home.”

What work does Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary do?

“We are an award-winning sanctuary in Thailand. We opened our doors in May 2016, with the aim to bring as many elephants as possible back to their natural habitat whilst working on educating both the public and the locals about elephant treatment and try to combat illegal trade. We at Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary are passionate about elephant welfare and want our elephants to live their lives as naturally and with as little human influence as possible. We do not promote elephant rides or any form of elephant performance.”

Related content

Wild Animal Unique Personality Award


World Animal Protection's Wild Animal Unique Personality Award raises awareness that wild animals are sentient beings, not commodities.

Remembering our dear colleague, Audrey Mealia


Our much-loved Head of Wildlife Programmes, Audrey Mealia, sadly died of cancer on 14th October 2021. We're remembering her for the hugely positive impact she had on animals and people.

Unique Wild Animal Personality Award 2023

Find out about the winner and finalists of the Unique Wild Animal Personality Award 2023, celebrating the distinctive personalities of wild animals.