The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

Asian Ele-Diary 2007

December 31, 2006
Enjoy our slide show of memorable events from 2006!

Slide Show


December 7, 2007

During a late night feed last week Carol lost her favorite earflap hat. It was pouring down rain, so she headed back to the barn with the plan to retrieve her hat the next morning. But the next morning the hat was nowhere to be found. All of the staff at the Quarantine barn were on the lookout for this favorite hat, but it was soon accepted that some form of wildlife had found it and carried it off to their den; what a warm bed that would make! But today while Julia was out feeding the elephants, she found Carol’s hat and called immediately to report her find. Carol rushed out with the camera in order to share the news with all of you. Lottie had not only found the hat, but had tasted it, chewed on it, dragged it through the mud, played tug of war with Minnie with it, and finally tossed it on top of her back where it lodged itself in the fresh mud caking Lottie’s back.

It was kind of cute, like a colorful mouse-size throw blanket. When Carol approached to take pictures and retrieve the hat, Lottie was amused and Minnie was by her side, likewise interested in what Carol was so focused on. Lottie approached Carol chattering, and after many photos were taken, was happy to stand still as Carol reached up to the top of Lottie’s back with a long stick to retrieve the hat. Well, it was really no longer a hat; actually at this point it resembled more of a turtle neck sweater, minus the sweater part because of the large openings at either end. It was no longer any use as a hat so Carol tossed the hat to Jessie the dog who grabbed it and raced off as if he had just scored the best toy ever, with Miai and Java on his heels!

Lottie & the hat

Close up of Lottie and the hat


November 23, 2007

Knowing Delhi makes it easy to accept that she refused to live up to predictions that she would not live long after arriving at the Sanctuary. Four years ago today Delhi stepped on the scene and has been a blessing ever since. Her love of life and deep attachment to Misty brings a great joy to everyone, especially Delhi. Her osteomyelitis is terminal and severly debilitating, but attitude is everything; and Delhi’s attitude is phenomenal. She enjoys each day to the fullest. Delhi is on a new foot soak remedy called "runner's relief," a remedy used on horses. She may be the first of her species to test out this remedy currently favored by high dollar race horses. Delhi does not do much racing around these days, but hopefully this new remedy will bring her added comfort.

Delhi up close


November 17, 2007

Just as Tarra was the inspiration for the creation of the Sanctuary and Barbara the driving force behind the Sanctuary’s land expansion, Lota and Misty were the catalyst for a huge shift in consciousness regarding the plight of captive elephants.

Lota was wild caught, captured as an infant and sold to the Milwaukee zoo at less than one year of age. Her total worth was that of an attraction; first as a zoo exhibit and later as a circus performer for the Hawthorn Corporation. In both situations Lota was undervalued, misunderstood, and systematically abused. After years of mistreatment Lota contracted tuberculosis.

Misty shared an equally sad existence. After killing a person, she disappeared into the dark underworld of circus, resurfacing at the Hawthorn Corporation. Misty and Lota were two unlikely pals. Misty, confident, cheeky and playful— Lota, seriously disgruntled about her lot in life. The deadly disease tuberculosis brought them together. We found them living in a tin shed, out back, behind the Hawthorn elephant barn, isolated from the other elephants due to their contagious condition. Winters in Illinois can be brutal; no place for an Asian elephant chained to the ground in a windowless metal building.

Finally the two sick elephants caught a break. The USDA won their animal abuse law suit against the Hawthorn Corporation and the two TB-positive elephants were deemed surplus and in need of a home. It was on this day, three years ago, that Lota and Misty arrived at the Sanctuary gate; Misty, grinning from ear to ear, Lota, stately and proud. It felt like a homecoming. Bless them both for helping the public to understand the plight that they and other captive elephants suffer. Bless them for holding on long enough to find sanctuary with us.

Lota and Misty with new toy
Lota and Misty with a new toy

Lota and Misty grazing
Lota and Misty grazing


October 23, 2007
The rains have been non stop for days. The girls are loving every glorious moment of the long-awaited weather. The ponds have all benefited as well, filling over their banks. AND the two new ponds in Asia and Africa are full. Thank goodness that Scott was able to identify the proper location for the ponds so they would be naturally filled by rain water run off.


October 19,2007

Tennessee weather has finally returned with its gloriously wild characteristics. Last night as all of the caregivers, less one, were settled in for a well deserved night's rest. The girls perched themselves on clear cut ridge tops and open valleys to fully immerse themselves in the weather that fast approached. It has been weeks, actually months, since we have felt the fierce power of Mother Nature rage through the Sanctuary; she has been missed. In the distance the night sky lit up fluorescent billowing clouds, illuminated by the flicker and flash of distant lightning. No noise at first and then wind began to rush through the tree tops, the sky began to howl, the trees swayed, cracked and some tumbled; the girls stood silent, inhaling the energy. Shirley, Bunny, Tarra and Bella were silhouetted on a clear cut ridge, horizon on all sides, faces pressed into the increasing wind; their eyes were placid, like they were in another realm. Maybe carried back to their childhood, standing in a family circle with elders telling them about the storms of their youth. It was powerful. The storm dumped lots of much needed rain and the temp remained balmy, glorious. We all got soaked to the skin, feeling more alive than ever. All is well.


October 18, 2007

There was much excitement around Diva Land today when Minnie uprooted a large pine tree and proceeded to make it her stomping toy…she had a blast. You may have seen her on the Ele-cam—she was having a great time. A caregiver came out to the pasture and moved the tree to a more open area so that Minnie would not wedge the tree in the cable fencing that protects the water trough. From experience we have learned that Minnie knows no boundaries when it comes to play. If the tree had gotten wedged in the corral, it could have become just another one of Minnie’s well used toys!

October 17, 2007 ~ Remembering Jenny

Jenny and Shirley holding trunks
Jenny and Shirley holding trunks

One year has passed since Jenny left us. The pain was like no other, like losing a limb perhaps, or the dearest friend you had ever known. It seemed the sky weeped for days. Shirley was in deep despair and only Bunny could console her. The silence was deafening. Tarra was dazed, and the rest of us walked through our chores blindly.

Today, the thought of Jenny brings a quick smile and endless memories of the fun-loving girl who welcomed everyone into her ever-growing family. Limping along, there was no road, hill, trail, or uncharted course too daunting to prevent her from exploring new territory. With her entourage at her side, Jenny blazed many trails into blackberry thickets which provided a cover from sight; even caregivers were challenged to find her.

With a three-year regime of two-hour supplemental feedings, Jenny grew accustomed to the extra love and attention showered on her. Loved she was, loved she continues to be. Blessed we are to have known her, to have touched and been touched by her. Jenny will always have a special place in our hearts...dearly remembered.

Jenny's Memorial video.


September 29 , 2007
During my bi-weekly water-wagon responsibility in the expanded habitat known as New Asia, I found myself gazing into Bunny’s gentle eyes as I recounted the time I spent with her before her arrival at the Sanctuary. Her eyes grew wide as the pitch of my voice raised in excitement. When I said, “Bunny, you have been here for eight years,” she let out her tiny chirp, a signature sound, unmistakably Bunny. In that moment my mind spun back to that time, precious and fleeting with so many memories of preparing Bunny to embark on her great adventure to freedom—her caring zoo staff as they patiently introduced her to the transport trailer; sharing many conversations with Bunny describing what her new home would be like and the loving elephants that were awaiting her arrival; the hundreds of miles I drove, back and forth from the Sanctuary to the zoo, week after week, preparing for the great day.

Just then Bunny’s eyes relaxed and she stepped closer to me, dropped her head ever so slightly (for a pet), and blinked in slow motion. My heart melted in that moment. All I could say was, "Eight years, my beauty; you have been here for eight years and every day has been a blessing." Join us in celebrating Bunny’s anniversary; eight years of sanctuary.



September 21 , 2007

Today a caregiver was fortunate to be in the habitat with camera in hand when Queenie decided to go for a swim. Minnie stood on the embankment watching Queenie and the photographer, as well as the dogs who were making a nuisance of themselves…at least as far as the elephants were concerned.

Slide Show


September 17 , 2007

It has been weeks since Billie has been in the pond and even longer for most of her fans to catch a glimpse of this elusive diva. I know our most ardent fans will love to see these elecam screen captures since so many of you missed Billie's blissful romp in the pond. The photos were submitted by an excited supporter who was watching the elecam at the exact moment that Billie decided to come out of hiding. » View Composite Photos


September 14 , 2007

One look at this peaceful scene would dispense the greatest skeptic’s doubts regarding Dulary’s transition and acceptance in the herd. This morning was like every other day of the past many weeks; Dulary protectively standing over Misty as she takes a beauty nap. Look closely and you will see that Dulary eyes are closed, she is napping as well.

Dulary and Misty
Dulary and Misty

After several days of rain the new pond in the Asian habitat has begun to fill with rain run off. Ele-size foot prints in the mud lead right up to the edge of the water where a pile of partially eaten hay has been discarded. There is no doubt that Dulary has already discovered the partially filled pool but she has not taken a plunge….. during day light hours, YET.

Slide Show

Many of you have asked how Shirley is doing. In a word, GREAT! The long hot summer has found the girls wandering, as usual, all over the habitat. Tarra is nearly always in their company and a closer bond has developed among the three since Jenny’s passing. But just don’t take my word for it—see for yourself.

Slide Show


September 12 , 2007

With so much room to roam, Sis and Winks stay in shape. It has been a long year on the road to Winkie’s recovery, and Sissy is her ever-faithful friend. Winkie continues to solicit affection whenever Scott or Carol approach with the water wagon, and who could resist her energetic vocalizations and silly body language. She dashes up to the 4-wheeler, barking her greeting, spins around in circles and drops her head, nearly touching the ground; her way of begging for a pet. Of course tongue rubs are still her favorite, and we are happy to report that last month Winkie shed one of her molars. On one of Carol’s visits, Winkie proudly opened her mouth showing Carol the huge vacant cavity where the old molar had been and the new one was growing in. It was interesting that she made a point to show off the loss of her tooth. Maybe she was expecting a visit from the tooth fairy with a crate of strawberries or a wagon load of watermelons!

Sis and Winks


September 11 , 2007 - Jenny Remembered

Jenny checks out Delhi's mouth
Jenny and Delhi

Since 2001 this date has signified a national tragedy, but in years prior this date signified great joy and new beginnings. This is the day in 1996 that our dear Jenny arrived at the Sanctuary. From the moment she limped off the trailer she brought joy into everyone’s days. Tarra was her earliest playmate and Barbara was her gentle mentor. Scott was her favorite from the first, while Carol was simply tolerated. Of course, after some months passed, Jenny decided to welcome Carol into her circle of friends as well.

When Shirley and then Bunny arrived it was obvious to everyone that Jenny loved her family and enjoyed every day of her life. Jenny always got very excited when a new elephant arrived; soon her family grew and she took them on endless adventures. Imagine how she felt after Shirley arrived and then Delhi, both elephants that she had known from her past. She probably thought we were collecting all of her friends and bringing them to the Sanctuary to rekindle their friendships. What a wonderful thing to look forward to each day.

Not a day goes by that we don’t find ourselves reflecting on how blessed we are to have known Jenny. She taught us so much about life and love, family and trust. Most importantly she taught us that life, no matter how difficult, is meant to be lived to the fullest. And that is exactly what she did.

Namaste, dear Jenny.


August 11, 2007 ~ Tina Remembered


Tina arrived at the Sanctuary on this day in 2003. What a blessing she was to the Sanctuary. With never a complaint about her terminal condition, Tina taught us patience and acceptance. She is deeply missed by all who love her.


August 6 , 2007
The hottest month of the year; seems like a good time for a new pond. Thanks to the support of so many of our donors, the elephants have two new ponds—one in Asia, dubbed "Dulary’s Pond" and the other hidden in the wilds of Africa. Scott spent many hours excavating and shaping these ponds, and boy, are they beautiful. The girls are going to love them…once we can figure how to fill them with water. We are experiencing a bit of a drought so the plan to collect rain water is not going to work, at least not right now. Our back up plan is to secure the use of a water truck and pump water from our lake to fill up the ponds. We are still working in this plan!

Slide Show


August 1 , 2007
This summer we have been busy trying to catch up with our rapid growth over the past two years. For the past month Maury Fence Company has been busy building more corral fencing. The first project was at the quarantine facility; next they go to Asian for some expanded fencing and then onto Africa to construct some heavy duty African fencing to create another section of enclosed habitat for the girls. These additional fenced areas give us more flexibility to accept additional elephants.

Slide Show


July 6, 2007
Shirley has been with us for eight glorious years. Her wisdom and compassion are palatable. Known as the matriarch, the glue that holds the herd together, Shirley survived the greatest loss you can imagine when her adopted daughter Jenny died last year. Bunny and Tarra have been of great solace to Shirley during her time of grief. The biggest change we have observed is how much time Tarra now spends with Shirley and Bunny; the three grand explorers. It is always a thrill to come around the bend in the road to see Bunny, Tarra, and the grand dame Shirley calmly grazing, browsing or just napping, enjoying whatever each moment brings. Happy anniversary, Shirley!

Happy Anniversary, Shirley!

June 17 , 2007
Dulary has settled in quite well; independent but sociable with the elephants and caregivers as well. The other day one of her caregivers mentioned that Dulary has a unique hobby; she collects rocks. You will never believe where she stores them!

Slide Show

June 16 , 2007

Dulary loves the water
Dulary cannot resist the water; a pond, a rain storm or a caregiver with a hose!

June 13 , 2007
Elephants develop 6 sets of teeth in a lifetime; 4 huge molars in the back of their mouth used to chew the hundreds of pounds of vegetation they eat daily. In the natural process, an elephant wears his/her teeth down, allowing the new teeth to migrate in to replace the worn ones. For the past couple of weeks we have noticed that Lizzie has been pushing on one of her teeth with her tongue. She was teething. She lost a 5th molar as it transitioned out of her mouth. The red area on the side of the tooth is the connective tissue. Lizzie experienced no obvious discomfort and there was no sign of blood. She is now on her last set of teeth which are designed to last up to 30 years.

Liz's tooth

Liz's tooth

June 1 , 2007
Dulary has been steadily acclimating to her new environment, new elephants and new caregivers. She is independent but spends time with the other elephants, especially Misty, Delhi and Tarra. She still shuffles her feet to make the dogs go away and although she has always been interested in her new caregivers, she had not yet let down her defenses. This is normal behavior, especially for a strong-willed, self-confident individual like Dulary—all traits that make her a prime candidate for life at the Sanctuary. Today is the day we have been waiting for; Dulary finally demonstrated that she wanted to interact with her caregivers in a respectful way. When Scott approached the corral, Misty and Dulary walked right up. Misty was her usual animated, vocal self and to Scott’s sheer joy, Dulary gently placed her head against the bars, stuck her flapping ear through the opening, dropped her head down in a submissive posture and began to talk. This is exactly what we have been waiting for, for Dulary to demonstrate that she wants to interact in a respectful manner with her caregivers. This is a day to celebrate!


May 5, 2007
We simply could not resist posting this photo of Sissy and Winkie enjoying the services of the ele-water wagon. Sissy drinks from the hose which is powered by a battery driven pump while Winkie siphons water directly from a hole on the top of the tank.

April 17 , 2007
Six months ago today our dear Jenny passed from this earth. Her time spent at the Sanctuary was nothing short of a miracle. She was the one who discovered a spring and excavated the mud wallow on the spot, with the precision of a schooled expert. Over the years, that mud wallow has been the focus of much mud flinging and slip-'n-slide fun for all of the elephants, including Delhi, and continues to be utilized by the divas today.

Jenny was the one who taught us that poison oak can be your friend—that is, if you are an elephant suffering from mosquito bites! Jenny taught us that life was meant to be enjoyed with friends, and that when a storm was approaching she could identify harsh weather hours before it hit.

Jenny took her family up every unexplored hillside and down the most precarious ravines. She even discovered swimming holes hidden from caregivers when she was released into the new expanded habitat. When it was her time to leave this earth, Jenny made her way, with her sisters in tow, to a gorgeous wooded area, lush with vegetation. She lay down and sang herself into the next world; blessing us with her passing.

Jenny we love you,

Your friends and family.


March 21 , 2007

Frieda had all of her front toes X-rayed today and she was amazing. Calm and cooperative, she placed her feet on a film cassette, in the precious position to take a good X-ray 11 different times. She never got impatient or concerned; she was a model patient, standing still each time the machine took the picture. We are so proud of her. These X-rays will give us the image of her toes so our vet team can evaluate why her feet have been so tender since her arrival.

Slide Show

March 11 , 2007

At the first hint of Spring, Bunny and Shirley headed out towards the lake. They spent the day grazing on the grass that is so abundant in their habitat.

Shirley and Bunny

February 8, 2007

Today, the day before the one year anniversary date of the final two Divas' arrival, and the two year anniversary of Lota’s death, I was distracted from my work in the quarantine barn office by a loud trumpeting, and jumped up just in time to see Minnie tearing through the creek. As the managing director, I have no direct contact with the divas but I am privy to their activities from my second story office window. I admired how gracefully Minnie moved, her upper body held high while her legs raced her across the ground. Her best friend, Lottie, had summoned her, and Minnie as usual wasted no time in joining her. Soon the valley was filled with trumpets, Queenie-squeaks and a magnificent low rumbling that I have come to learn may mean the elephants are pleased to see someone. Minnie, Lottie, and Queenie were soon jostling for a prime viewing spot along the fence line, of what I wondered. The rumbling and trumpets grew louder, and then I saw what their focus was; it was Carol, who had been working at the keeper’s house, coming out to greet them.

These three magnificent elephants were showing and receiving love from their caregiver, after lifetimes filled with pain and disrespect. Amazingly resilient, they are able to open their hearts and we are blessed to be in their presence. Java and Jesse tumbled in the grass, Ronnie and Debbie carefully made their way out of the barn into the sun, while Liz, Billie and Frieda enjoyed some refills of timothy hay and newly-cut bamboo in their freshly-cleaned stalls. Happy Anniversary to the Divas and Namaste, dear Lota.

Frieda is enjoying the special attention she receives with her daily foot soaks. Her ankles are stiff and feet are sore from a condition she has suffered from for years. Hopefully this therapy will bring her some permanent relief.

Frieda enjoying a foot soak


January 29, 2007
Today a supporter sent this e-mail: "This sounds like a nice word to describe Tarra and/or Misty from what I've read on your site." We could not agree more - but she forgot to include Minnie!

gadabout\GAD-uh-bout\, noun: Someone who roams about in search of amusement or social activity.



January 1, 2007
What a way to start the new year; Ronnie shows us how with sun, fun and friends.

Ronnie and friends


December 31, 2006
Enjoy our slide show of memorable events from 2006!

Slide Show