October 11, 2011

Yesterday was a special but sad day here at the Sanctuary, as the staff reflected on the lives of two of our elephants who left us too soon.  October 10th would have been Ned’s 24th birthday. Ned was our one and only male elephant who passed on May 15, 2009 after just a few precious months here at The Sanctuary.  Additionally, we took note with great sadness, of the passing of Lottie one year ago.  Caregivers, Sanctuary staff, and supporters are not the only ones who remember the loss of our elephant loved ones. Elephants in the wild have been observed cradling the remains of family members, conducting vigils over the body, covering it with brush and grass, and even returning to the burial areas years later and caressing the bones. Ashleigh and Kelly, two of our Caregivers, reflect on our memories and the loss that we and our elephants shared on this special day. In remembering Ned and Lottie, we honor their memory.

Remembering Ned and Lottie—

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since sweet Lottie left us. I can stand at the site where she passed away and still see just how she lay, with such a peaceful look on her face that it seemed more like she was enjoying a nap on a beautiful afternoon than gone from us.  But at her grave the passage of time is visible, and only faint traces show that it is a grave—the last remains of some hay placed there and the remnants of the fire from her memorial. But the wild grasses have returned and taken back what was theirs. Taking a step back from the little bundle of wild flowers placed there today, they are hidden by what grows there now.

Sweet, sweet Nedly, adorable Nedders, wonderful Ned would have been 24 this week. He wasn’t with us nearly long enough and certainly on this earth for far too short a time. Working in Phase I now, it’s hard to forget that it was once Ned’s bachelor pad. The Fall that Ned was with us, we decided that he should have a scarecrow to play with for an enrichment activity. I scoured the area for the perfect materials to make one with, using his favorite hay for stuffing. Ned was thoroughly unsure of what to do with the scarecrow when he was presented with it, but before long he was tossing it around. It was just a little thing, but so big for Ned.  Ned came to us so timid and unused to making decisions, but in the short time he was with us he learned that it was okay to go out on your own to explore, to play with your tire, to nap when you feel tired and to hang out inside if it’s too chilly and you don’t want to go out and play.

In honor of his birthday, we placed flowers on his grave together with a Fall angel figurine and little pair of overalls that reminded me of his scarecrow’s.
--Ashleigh

Click here to visit Ned’s Tribute page.

Even after time passes we remember the dear Girls we’ve lost, most poignantly the ones who passed recently. It still seems like yesterday we could see Miss Lottie in the fields with her best friend Minnie, but it’s already been a year since she left us on October 10th, 2010. Visiting her grave and putting fresh picked wild flowers on top is all we can do now to say “hello, we love you” to our dear friend.

Lately, Minnie has been inside the barn every morning due to the colder nights, and rarely spends time near where Lottie is buried. But on Sunday morning, the day before the anniversary of her old friend’s death, I found Minnie peacefully grazing in the sunshine right next to Lottie’s grave.
--Kelly

Click here to visit Lottie’s biography page.

A special thank you to all of our supporters - you made it possible for Ned and Lottie, after years of mistreatment and abuse, to live the remainder of their lives with dignity and grace at The Elephant Sanctuary.