The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

Healing for Elephants

The end of the year, especially the holiday season, is a time for celebration, hope and excitement. For many of us, it is also a time for reflection, a time when we contemplate the past and remember loved ones no longer with us.

     Lizzie with head adornment

At The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee our elephants do not tie their happiness to a particular time of year. They enjoy snowy games, blissful summer swims and silver moonlit walks amongst fallen leaves. Sadly, neither is our Girls’ pain limited by season. Many of them continue to bear the traumas of their previous lives in captivity, of cruel treatment and chains, of loss of friends and of day-in, day-out sameness spent pacing the unforgiving floors of a tiny cage. And yet our Girls walk the rolling hills and soft green pastures of their Tennessee sanctuary and slowly, surely, they heal. Here they have what elephants need to mend themselves; they have nature about them and their elephant sisters beside them for support in the difficult times and for celebration in the joyous ones. As their days and years go by so our elephants come to know peace such as they have not known since childhood.

And, dear supporters, the tranquility they once more experience is thanks to your generosity. As a supporter of The Sanctuary, you likely keep check on the Girls throughout the year by reading Trunklines. You read about the launch of our Elecams which have enabled people around the world a glimpse into this haven, to observe and share in our Girls’ daily lives without intrusion on their refuge. You learned this summer about Billie’s courage as, after five long years, she allowed her Caregivers to remove her last ankle chain, finally setting her free from her circus life. And this fall you read the sad news that Lizzie, despite the intense and difficult treatments she endured this past year, still suffers from TB and now faces yet another round in the year ahead.

    Tarra and Bella, a special friendship

Some of you who do not visit our website may not have heard about the tragic loss of Bella – the beloved friend of our founding elephant Tarra. On October 26th, Bella, the little white stray dog Tarra adopted eight years ago, passed away. On Tuesday morning, Caregivers greeted Tarra but saw Bella was missing. A Sanctuary wide search was launched. After 24 excruciating hours, Bella’s body was found not far from the barn that she and Tarra had called home. Bella’s death was both tragic and poignant, because Bella, apparently killed by coyotes, did not die where she was found. The lack of signs of struggle near her final resting place, the gravity of her wounds and the tell-tale smudge of blood found on the under-side of Tarra’s trunk told us the incredible story of friendship. Tarra, who had apparently interrupted the brutal attack, like a grieving mother then lifted Bella’s body up and, cradling her in her trunk, painfully carried her home.

    Shirley, Misty, Dulary and Tarra support each other

Dear supporters, please take comfort in knowing our Girls are here to support Tarra as she mourns her friend. Shirley, Sissy, Winkie and all the Girls have already made great efforts to comfort her in her time of need. We, elephants and humans, who have lost a loved one know true friends carry us until we are once again ready to stand on our own.

It is our privilege to share with you these stories of our Girls’ struggles and triumphs, because your support is what carries us and them through. Your friendship and contributions over the past 16 years helped us create this refuge for elephants. It stands as a beacon of promise that we hope all captive elephants in pain will someday be drawn to.

    Misty and Dulary with Tarra in between

This coming year, 2012, we turn to the corner of The Sanctuary where it all began, and once more ask you for your help. The heart of The Sanctuary beats in two original barns, now called the Quarantine barns, and the surrounding woods and pastures. Here the Sanctuary was founded and here some of our most intense healing work is carried out. With the Hawthorn ex-circus elephants, every day is spent dealing full-on with the consequences of poor care and mistreatment.

We know that a renovation of the Quarantine barns is essential if our progress in caring for the Q-Girls is to continue. We are poised as the leader in the treatment of tuberculosis in elephants. Your support at this time will be dedicated to helping provide the best possible care for our Hawthorn Girls and for all our dear elephants who came to us in imperfect health. We are ready to create a top-level Veterinary Care Center, named after Lota in remembrance of her tragic death from TB. We ask you to help us lead the world as healers of elephants’ physical and emotional wounds.

Your contribution this year will ensure the necessary barn upgrade, the expansion of fencing and access roads, and the building of our new Lota Veterinary Care Center. Most importantly, your donation helps to ensure that The Elephant Sanctuary will continue to be a beacon of hope for elephant lovers, for caregivers in other facilities who know their elephants deserve better, and, above all, for our future residents—those elephants who themselves deserve a safe haven. All of us here at The Elephant Sanctuary work with passion to ensure that, with your continued support, every elephant who is chained, sick or alone may one day find Sanctuary.

    Tange and Flora

Our Girls did not choose this life—but thanks to you they get to choose the path they walk every day in Sanctuary.

Yours Truly,

Robert Atkinson, PhD

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