October 18, 2010

Thinking of Lottie:

As many of you may know, this has been a very difficult week for everyone here at the Sanctuary, particularly at Q-Barn. On Sunday, October 10, we lost a very special soul when our Lottie passed away suddenly in the early morning hours.

She was an incredible presence in a very subtle way, for she was a calming energy for everyone—people and elephants alike. Her unconditional love and companionship for Minnie was remarkable, and her soft personality was relished by those who cared for her. She had the most beautiful eyelashes, and her cheeky smile was adorable. Trunk pops, snorty trumpets, little ears, and long angular face......all qualities we loved about her. We miss every single one.

Lottie's best friend Minnie is doing well, taking her own time, as expected, to process all that has happened. She moves through her days still with a calm quietness, spending some time interacting with Debbie and Ronnie. She also spends a great deal of time by herself—by her choice. She is accepting of her caregivers occasionally hanging out nearby, as they just want to "be there" with her and for her. Minnie very briefly visited the spot where Lottie passed away, but has not yet spent time at the actual gravesite. She will decide when she’s ready, so we just continue to support and love her, giving her either the space or the company she needs at all times.

Caregivers send their thanks to the entire Sanctuary staff who, as always, are wonderful and supportive whenever they are needed. Thank you to our friends and supporters and all who loved Lottie, no matter how far away you may be. Thank you for the kind words and thoughts; they are appreciated more than we can say.

It is hard to adjust to taking out one less feed bucket every morning and evening. We see Lottie in what were all of her favorite spots: the water corral in Field 3, beneath the big shade tree in Pond Yard Right, "Lottie’s Spot" in the 40 Right, and especially her place at the Upper Pond where so many Ele-cam viewers kept tabs on her as well.

Thank you most of all to Lottie. We are very fortunate to have known and loved her.

Lottie


Lottie’s passing punctuates the depth in which these girls have the ability to touch people. For other caregivers in the Asian Habitat, or Africa, it was not necessary to have worked with Lottie for her to have had a profound affect on us, too. Many people have their favorite elephant; one with which they identify, perhaps because of that elephant's struggle, or strength, or loyalty, or weakness. We find something in all of them which makes that connection.

Though our daily work at the Sanctuary must continue—as elephants need to be fed and cared for—there is still a part of everything that comes to a halt. Thoughts drift effortlessly from Lottie and the relief felt at the apparent ease of her passing; to Minnie and her composure, wondering where the next few months will take her; to her caregivers; and to our other Ladies, reminding us how grateful we should be for every smile, rumble, squint, and moment they allow us to share.

We know they won’t be with us forever—their pasts have taken a great toll on them. Although the emotional toll tends to be most evident, the physical effects from years on chains, cement, inappropriate diets, and stress can cause damage that is beyond anyone’s repair. Therefore, we do what we can... and then some. We provide them with this safe space to rediscover themselves, to choose who they want to be, to form unbreakable bonds with their sisters (or sometimes a dog), and to enjoy the time they have here to the fullest. For some, it has seemed unfairly too short, but it is still a moment of happiness, a reprieve from their torment and isolation, a walk on the grass, sleeping in the warmth of the sun, and feeling the caring and love that surrounds them. We are aware that their visits may be shorter than we would hope, so we hold onto all of those special moments, and keep our hearts open to what they have to teach us.

There is always a pain with their loss, a pain that never outweighs the gifts they have given, and the happiness they have brought before they physically leave us. Lottie’s memory will continue on, in the stories that are told and re-told. Her memory will be reflected in the hearts of those who watched her arrive, leaving behind her dark room and chains, and with those who learned of her story, and waited to read or see what she was doing that day. But mostly, it will be carried eternally in her sisters for she is part of The Sanctuary forever.

In remembering others who have passed, our special Jenny left us on October 17th, 2006, after ten years of sanctuary.