The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee


Born: 1971
Birth status: wild born

Height: 9'
Favorite Food: Bananas


Debbie was wild born in Asia in 1971, captured and separated from her family at a young age and sent to America to work in a circus.

For more than twenty years, Debbie was one of several elephants who performed with the Clyde-Beatty Cole Brothers Circus, a large tent circus that criss-crossed the U.S. One day when the elephants were being walked through a crowded parking lot to the tent for their performance, Debbie dropped out of line and chased Frieda through the parking lot and right into the plate glass window of a Sears building. Both elephants sustained minor cuts and were immediately loaded up into a transport trailer and sent to the Hawthorn Corporation for temporary boarding. At ywenty-five, Debbie was sold to the Hawthorn Corporation, a company in Illinois that trained and leased elephants to circuses.

Years later, as a result of USDA prosecutions against the Hawthorn Corporation for violations of the Animal Welfare act involving inadequate care and mistreatment of its elephants, Debbie, along with nearly all the other members of her circus herd, was sent to The Elephant Sanctuary.

On February 7, 2006, at the age of thirty-five, Debbie traveled with her best friend Ronnie and became the nineteenth resident of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Debbie is one of the youngest members of the Hawthorn herd (now known as the "Divas"), and she is the group's second-largest elephant, weighing in at a hefty 10,380 pounds. On the day she arrived, Sanctuary staff and Elecam viewers watching live couldn't imagine why, but Debbie appeared to be the most tentative of the Caravan to Freedom "Divas," taking more than an hour to feel secure enough to disembark from the transport trailer. No doubt today, as she freely roams the pastures and wooded forests in her retirement, Debbie probably cannot imagine why on earth she ever hesitated!

Debbie's closest bonds are with Ronnie and Gypsy. While Debbie and Ronnie are together at The Elephant Sanctuary, for several months Gypsy remained at the Hawthorn Corporation with Nic. We are pleased to report that Gypsy and Nic, the last two elephants to remain at the Hawthorn facility, found sanctuary at the Performing Animals Wildlife Sanctuary (PAWS) in California in the spring of 2007.

Debbie is very calm-natured and predictable. At times, she shows signs of exploring her independence, but spends the majority of her time socializing within the herd. During the warmer seasons, Debbie can usually be found swimming in the upper pond or grazing alongside her best friend Ronnie, whom she tends to follow everywhere she goes!