December 25, 2008
It was a beautiful sunny day in ele-heaven today. All of the girls and our bachelor boy Ned spent time soaking up the sun. While Lottie napped on the south facing hillside in field #6, Minnie engaged in playful interaction with Debbie. The ele-cam revealed Minnie balancing a large tree effortlessly over the hot wire. Minnie dropped the tree more than once and watched the wire bounce up and down, up and down, up and down. Of course her play was interrupted when a caregiver traded Minnie some grass hay for the tree. We often have to remove such attractive toys from the immediate area of hotwire, as Minnie is sharp as a tack and knows exactly how to cause the fence to malfunction. Minnie was not discouraged by the hay distraction; instead, she munched for awhile and then set out to find Lottie and wake her up! The 3-sum basked in the sun by the sycamore tree for hours, only budging when they raced a few feet with the passing 4-wheeler. Bunny got an uncomfortable surprise in the wee hours of the morning when something stung her, causing a large welt on the inside of her front leg. She was concerned, but managed to derive a fair bit of pleasure from the glorious day.
The African beauties were mostly hidden in their winter wonderland, but they too were out and about soaking up the sun. The motto of the day: Be sure to fully enjoy the sun for the few hours it presents itself this time of year. Even Ned was found basking in the sun and chomping on his current favorite food, bamboo.
October 17, 2008
This is how we remember Jenny, always on the go surrounded by her family.
Never far from our thoughts, namaste dear Jenny.
August 24, 2008
Today the "3-some" had a surprise. In preparation for renovations
to their barn, Lizzie, Frieda, and Billie moved over to the adjacent Phase
I barn. It was kind of nostalgic considering this barn was our first, a
two-stall barn with an impressive restraint chute and all the amenities
of the other barns; automatic waterers, automated gates, padded floors,
free choice access to the yards and a newly dug pond! This was where Tarra,
Jenny and Barbara stayed when they first arrived at the Sanctuary; their
first of three barns. Delhi spent her quarantine year in this barn. Lota
graced us with her presence for too short a time, leaving Misty to complete
her tuberculosis treatment alone. This barn holds a lot of memories for
all of us.
And now Lizzie, Frieda and Billie will create more memories, and
they already have. This morning after breakfast, the gate leading from
the Phase II barn was opened. To protect Frieda’s tender feet from
the gravel driveway, a walkway of rubber mat flooring was laid out like
a red carpet leading to the entrance of the Phase I yard. With a plan
and treats in hand, caregivers invited the girls to make their way over
to the new yard. Like three kids crowding to get through the door first
on their way to the playground, Frieda got the edge and was out the door
first with Liz second and Billie bringing up the rear. All three headed
for the new yard without hesitation as the caregivers stood by smiling.
These ladies never cease to amaze us with their trust and thirst for
July 21, 2008
are never far from our thoughts.
Namaste ~ Joanna and Tina.
July 6, 2008
On this day—her nine year arrival anniversary—Shirley reigns
as our eldest Asian elephant; she is sixty years young. Her recovery following
Jenny’s passing was slow, but it has been made less difficult because
of Bunny and Tarra.
Bunny used to be a wanderer, leaving Jenny, Shirley
and Tarra for hours or even days at a time to explore on her own.
since Jenny’s death, Bunny and Shirley have not spent one moment
apart. Bunny has been an example of devotion and sensitivity, displaying
deep compassion towards Shirley. Their relationship is stronger than
Happy anniversary Shirley!
Tarra, Shirley and Bunny
July 5, 2008
Remember when you all pitched in to pay for a custom dug pond for Dulary?
The days were scorching hot and the rain was nowhere in sight. The pond
was dug in record time and after a rain dance or two, water began to
fall from the sky and fill up the pond. Well, the pond has been full
of water for months but Misty and Dulary have paid no attention. The
pond has been enjoyed by Winkie, Sissy and even Tarra, but not Dulary—until
today! What a joy to see Dulary discover that the pond was not a mirage,
but the real thing. Oh boy, are she and Misty enjoying themselves!
May 19, 2008
Misty, one of the sleeping beauties
May 1, 2008
Dulary wasted no time blending into the herd. Her all time best girlfriend
is Misty (shown napping below). The two act like two giddy preteens,
darting all over the place at top speed, sharing trumpeted secrets in
each other's ears and holding trunks. We can not imagine a more compatible
pair of pampered pachys. Dulary’s joy at seeing her caregivers
approach says it all. She is vocal, playful and secure in her new home.
Happy anniversary, Dulary!
April 26, 2008
Nearly every day that goes by causes us, in some way, to
celebrate or reflect. Today is Tina’s birthday, and if she were
still with us she would have been 38 years old, still quite young for
an elephant. Tina was a radiant being, an accomplished singer and such
a pleasure to behold. She never met a person she did not like, nor a
day that did not bring her joy. We miss her dearly.
From the moment Barbara arrived until the instant that she left us,
we were her devoted students. She seriously touched our lives, transforming
our perspective and will be forever remembered as a chalice of wisdom.
April 8, 2008
It has been more than a week since Queenie passed, and it is hard to verbalize
how we feel. At first, there was disbelief followed by denial; then anger,
and finally a softening that washed over us—an energetic blanket
Unlike Delhi's passing, Queenie went without warning. This feels to
be the most difficult aspect of the loss. We are blessed with the images
of Queenie's smiling face and silly squeaks each time her memory joyfully
pops into mind. A glowing warmth and comfortable connectedness is what
we feel now when we remember our sweet girl. Lottie and Minnie spent
several days on and around Queenie's grave, but their time with her before
her burial was the most profound. Their bonds could be felt, they were
one. After Queenie was buried that connection seemed to diffuse; her
body was not visible, it was unrecognizable. If Queenie was not required
to be buried and her body was left above ground, it would have deteriorated
into the earth, eventually becoming unrecognizable, but at a much slower
rate then what Lottie and Minnie experienced. Queenie's burial speeded
up that process for Lottie and Minnie. From all observations and interactions
with both Lottie and the transformed soft Minnie, their grieving process
has taken a healthy and natural course with both returning to a somewhat
normal routine over the past few days.
When Queenie's face flashes across our minds, which happens many times
each day, we are filled with a warm glow and gladly reminded of the dear,
sweet, confident member of the diva sisterhood. Queenie reveled in her
freedom, living each moment to the fullest. We will miss her dearly and
accept that it was her time to go..
March 30, 2008
It was a gray dreary day, the cloud cover never lifted and the air felt
as heavy as our hearts. Lottie and Minnie swiftly moved from the pond
yard out to where Queenie’s body lay waiting for their arrival.
Lottie moved gracefully across the pasture, serious yet tentative, and
things felt quietly primal as she moved straight towards Queenie. When
Queenie’s body was in sight, Lottie stopped and waited for Minnie
to catch up. They both stood close, still for several seconds, then Lottie
made the first step and Minnie followed. Again they paused and this time
Minnie proceeded no further, while Lottie, as if on tender tiptoes, closed
the gap between her and her beloved Queenie.
The look on Lottie’s face was heartbreaking; it was as if she
did not yet understand what she was seeing or what had happened. She
reached out to smell, and then a few steps later reached out to touch
Queenie’s face as she lay on her side in the pasture. Minnie slowly
made a wide circle around Queenie, fiddling with twigs and grass, glancing
at me and then the dogs for what appeared to be a welcomed distraction
from something much too painful to consider, something she desired not
to acknowledge just yet.
Lottie tenderly touched all over Queenie, not rushed, no urgency, no
panic or confusion, just loving kindness, the heartfelt touch of a dear
friend. She wore a knowing, yet foggy, look on her face; the two were
in a powerfully radiant dance, in slow motion.
Minnie watched from a distance.
As Lottie continued her tender recognition of her friend, she was one
with Queenie, almost like the two were actually breathing together, like
Queenie indeed was only sleeping and Lottie was her protector while she
As Minnie continued to make her way around Queenie and Lottie, not an
audible word was uttered. Minnie entered the woods and pulled at a few
low branches; you could see she was apprehensive, she was unsure. As
Lottie continued to caress every inch of Queenie’s body, Minnie
silently approached and began to scent Queenie and was now sharing in
the dance. She and Lottie circled Queenie’s body, touching, looking
soulful—and then Minnie stepped closer. She tested the area directly
around Queenie’s tummy and then, ever so gentle, in a manner never
before observed of Minnie, she entered a new world, the world of her
ancestors. She painstakingly and gently lifted one front foot and then
the other over Queenie’s bloated belly and placed both feet centimeters
from Queenie’s back, arranging her hugeness protectively and completely
over Queenie’s body.
Minnie breathed deeply, and as she exhaled it felt as if the air was
being sucked from my lungs. Minnie was letting go. There was a charge
of energy in the air, and I would almost swear that in that moment Minnie
had been transformed. Her love for Queenie allowed an opening in her
heart through which all of her long-denied compassion, empathy and grief
rushed in; she is now fully in the moment, the emotional moment, and
she is standing confident with her dear friend facing her fears; she
is not running away.
As tears flow down my face I can hardly contain my heart in my chest
for I know what this tragic turn of events means for Minnie. No greater
gift could any one of us receive then the opportunity to find our true
loving self underneath the piles of defensive barriers we build. Queenie
has given Minnie the ultimate gift.
As the dreary day wore on, Lottie and Minnie kept their vigil. Without
strain or words to the outside world, these three dear friends lived
as they had each day in the past two years, in each other's loving company.
Lottie slept touching Queenie while Minnie slept a few feet away. Their
meals were delivered as usual with Queenie getting her fair share. Each
time hay was delivered, Lottie would leave Queenie’s side, but
Minnie did not. She looked in my direction, soft soulful, a Minnie that
she has kept hidden or perhaps that she herself never knew before this
time. Minnie did not cry tears but she was mourning in a real way, needing
to be close to her friend.
I respectfully approached and laid hay down in front of Queenie and
Minnie; she watched me, and not even the invitation from playful dogs
gave her a reason to leave Queenie’s side. At 10pm Lottie and Minnie
remained in the pasture with Queenie, receiving their meals and extra
hay. If the cloud cover had lifted, the moon would have illuminated the
precious love that radiates from these elephants, sharing the midnight
hours together in the place they found together, a place of sanctuary,
their true home.
March 29, 2008
I hardly know how to share this news, it is shocking and I know it will
bring tears to all. Our dear Queenie passed away unexpectedly today.
There were no warning signs, no sickness, no shift from her adventurous
playful self. In fact, Queenie spent a good portion of her day on Friday
in the upper pond for all of our EleCam viewers to see. Queenie was the
diva that knew how to play and she knew how to love. She was fine with
caregivers but she gave her heart to her sister elephants, all of them.
She was best of friends with the mighty Minnie and loyal Lottie; the
three were inseparable.
Queenie was the cutest squeaker you will ever
hear. Her vocalizations grace our new Our Girls DVD; she had the most
unique elephant speak imaginable. Queenie left us abruptly. No, we were
not prepared. We feel like we are in a stupor, wondering what just happened.
One thing these girls teach us is that without a doubt they make the
decision when to transcend this earthly life. Obviously, as demonstrated
by her hasty exit, Queenie’s work here was done. We can’t
yet consider life without Queenie, she simply left too quickly, and we
are still processing and shedding lots of tears; we love her, we miss
her, we wish she would not have left us so soon.
March 19, 2008
The overnight rain storms filled the creek with the thunder of rushing
water as well as floating logs and tons of sticks, leaves and other of
natural debris. It was sprinkling on and off all day, the perfect stimulus
for swimming. Yes, the elephants love to swim in the rain. If it is storming,
all the better; the harder the rain the more they play—add lightening
and thunder and the entire herd will pile into the pond! Today Lizzie
discovered the swollen creek, and on three different occasions went in
for a splash. One time Billie joined her and appeared to be less interested
in playing in the water and more interesting in watching Lizzie. But
three turns in the creek apparently was not enough for Lizzie today;
she ended the day by submerging herself in the pond and really making
a big splash!
March 18, 2008
The day of Delhi’s burial, Frieda developed a stomach ache. Although
she does not experience this condition often, Frieda is prone to colic
so we are very attentive to the volume of water she drinks daily and
to her intake of newly-found vegetation. We will never know for sure
what prompted the stomach ache, but to relieve some of the discomfort
she lay down--which is a normal behavior for her. Unfortunately, Frieda
chose to lie down in an area that was very difficult for her to get back
up. She spent too much time trying to right herself and caused herself
a great deal of stress. Caregivers were on the scene to help her get
up on her feet, and followed up with veterinary-recommended treatment
to address her soreness. Along with long baths, lots of rest, and a variety
of remedies for a speedy recovery, Frieda has been offered a buffet of
goodies several times each day. She is back to eating normally and feeling
like herself again. We are all relieved and she surely has enjoyed the
Two years ago today, the first of our precious divas unloaded from their
transport trailer and took a long look around their new surroundings.
Lottie and Minnie, matriarch and the princess daughter, did not waste
a minute in the barn—instead they raced outside to see exactly
what this place was all about. In the 24 months that followed, these
two grand ladies have woven themselves into the fabric of the Sanctuary,
teaching caregivers volumes about the extent of dysfunction a captive
elephant can recover from.
In this past year. Lottie has blossomed, showing her soft side to elephants
and caregivers alike, she is a dear. Her devotion to Minnie is an important
element of Minnie's recovery. Seriously impacted by alarmingly depraved
happenings in her past, Minnie appears to be the individual who has suffered
the deepest psychological wounds. We are thankful for each increment
of recovery, as we know that Minnie deserves to be free of the horrendous
burden that has been heaped upon her. We are confident that a full recovery
is possible. Today, as always, all of her dear friends huddle around
her with gentle touches, chirps and trumpets, baskets of goodies and
pounds of patience, letting her know just how much she is loved!
It was cold today but that did not dampen Sissy's anniversary. She and
Winkie are such caring friends—Sissy with her soft, sensitive smile,
gently supporting Winkie in all she does. Winkie has really been showing
a softer side lately and we know that Sissy is a huge part of that. Sissy
makes Winkie feel safe and secure. As the years fly by we are eternally
grateful that Sissy was able to endure years of brutality and not lose
the sweetness that is her very essence. Her rescue seems like only yesterday
but what a joy to know she has been with us for eight years today!
Delhi's last nap rejuvenated her for almost a week. Then again, early
Friday morning, sometime after Scott left the barn at 2AM, Delhi laid
down on her pile of shaving for another long nap. This time the caregivers
were more comfortable regarding their role in Delhi's routine. Her vitals
were monitored and her demeanor evaluated. It seemed this time Delhi
was not as soft and relaxed as she had been the past two times she took
her long naps. A remedy was prescribed to help her soften. If effective,
the remedy would help her benefit from the rest by removing the discomfort
she was experiencing. Even though Delhi appeared a little uncomfortable
it was nothing that would suggest that she was in unnamable pain. Her
leg stretches were a little stiff, not fluid like we would prefer to
The remedy worked and Delhi settled right in and indeed benefited from
her long nap. The caregivers are fully aware of how their emotional state
can impact the elephants, so during times like these, when Delhi takes
an extra long nap, we try to keep our anxiety in check. We all do our
best to not project into the future, not burden Delhi with our fear of
losing her and to focus on sending her support and acceptance for whatever
is to come. And most importantly, we lavish Delhi with all of the love
we feel for her. At 11 PM, as Scott dozed off just feet away from Delhi,
she silently got up, doing her best not to wake him. Scott opened his
eyes to see Delhi drinking from her personal automatic waterer—just
as content as she could be. What an amazing lady she is!
30 hours had passed since Delhi rose from her extended slumber. She
has been active and eating normally. Scott stayed up until 2pm redoing
Delhi’s shavings bed to perfection. If she laid down again Scott
wanted her to be completely comfortable. Again when AM staff entered
the barn they saw that Delhi was once again snuggled in a bed of shavings
sound asleep. Without disturbing her they checked her breathing and examined
the area around her body to ascertain approximately how long she had
been lying down. That is just one of the great things about elephants,
they defecate several times a day which can come in handy when a caregiver
is trying to determine a timeline in just such a situation. It appeared
that Delhi had been sleeping for no more than two hours…so they
quietly crept away so she could sleep.
Her second sleeping marathon was nearly a duplicate of the first. Caregivers
monitored her as she rested paying close attention to any change in posture
or signs of discomfort. Delhi never exhibited any signs of discomfort
or concern, she simply rested. A remedy was administered but this time
she got up before it was time for the second dose. Before 30 minutes
had passed she was up on her feet, eating, drinking, and looking at everyone
with that “what? I was just sleeping” look. Apparently Delhi
does know how to take care of herself.
This morning when caregivers entered the barn to start the AM shift,
they found Delhi sleeping comfortably on a pile of soft shavings in her
favorite stall. Misty and Dulary were huddled close in an adjacent stall,
gently stroking Delhi’s face along with each others. The feeling
in the barn was calm. The caregivers went about their chores taking care
not to disturb Delhi’s slumber, appreciating that she was taking
some weight off of her slowly deteriorating feet. Delhi is over 60, happy
and playful and living with a full blown case of osteomyelitis in both
It was not until early afternoon when Scott began to wonder if Delhi
should be thinking about getting up; a conscientious caregiver is always
challenged to allow the animal to do what they feel is best. This idea
is contrary to the caregiver inclination to always be helping. In this
case Delhi proved once again that the elephants have the wisdom to know
what they need. If allowed they take care of themselves quite well.
By the time Delhi had been sleeping for 10 hours her vets had prescribed
remedies to stimulate her to get up and a plan was readied in case the
hoist was required. Delhi received three doses of pulsatilla, a homeopathic
remedy which in this case was prescribed to address her complacency with
getting up. You see Delhi was quite comfortable lying down; she was warm
and cozy. She was being hand fed her favorite foods, pampered by her
sister elephants and caregivers, in between her bouts of deep slumber.
At no time did she show any sign of discomfort, fear or concern. By all
accounts she was just taking a very long nap. Our concern was that elephants
can experience problems if they remain in a reclined position for too
many hours. The problems are caused by pressure on their internal organs
which makes it increasingly hard to breathe as well reduced circulation.
For these reasons, elephants usually only sleep a few hours at a time—normally
4 hours in 24. But remember, Delhi is a senior citizen so she has been
known to sleep more hours in a stretch than the other elephants.
The game plan was discussed and we were all in agreement that if Delhi
did not respond to the series of homeopathic remedies then she would
be given a dose of banamine. If she was avoiding pain by lying down then
the banamine would cut the pattern of pain giving her the freedom to
get up. At 6pm, Delhi was still snoozing away so Scott administered the
banamine while Kat and Mary hand fed her favorite treat—corn on
the cob. A call went out to the other barns for their supply of corn
and by morning the Asian barn cooler was over flowing with Delhi’s
personal stash. The ten o’clock feed came and went with Delhi content
to continue to catch up on her beauty sleep; her vitals were monitored
and blood work was done in house. Her pulse was normal, her tongue was
a perfect pink, and her breathing was normal and constant. Then at 11:45pm
with one kick of her back leg Delhi righted herself and rose to her full
stature which to all of us seemed feet taller than she was when she laid
down. She was downright radiant, with that heart-melting twinkle in her
eye and a cute little grin on her perky mouth. She accepted the hose
Scott offered and drank for an eternity, then proceeded to eat and be
fussed-over by caregivers and elephants alike. Yes, we were all relieved
because even though we believe that Delhi is in charge of her own destiny
and that we must support her choices for her life and passing, we were
hoping to be blessed with more time with the magnificent lady…and
What an exciting day! Some rather severe weather raced across Tennessee
in the usual flash style. The weather comes on fast and strong, and is
gone that quickly. Today we started out sunny, then rain, then winds
and hail and then a torrential downpour, which resulted in flash flooding— which
is always a welcome occurance at the Sanctuary. We welcome the water,
as we don’t have any areas that experience dangerous flooding—but
we do have many creeks, streams and ponds that spill over their banks
with such weather, and the girls love it! Today Sissy and Winkie christened
Dulary’s pond. They decided they weren’t wet enough during
the downpour and hail storm, so they made their way down the trail to
the pond, and slid right in. Winkie took a couple of dives under water,
rolling all around, while Sissy was her soft self and mostly waded. When
they were done, they stood along the edge of the pond and coated themselves
with red mud—which is still coating Winkie’s nose pink.
January 5, 2008
I hope many of you saw Minnie on the elecam this morning and boy I wish
we had had a digital camera handy. Today, Minnie actually broke a thin
layer of ice that had formed on the upper pond and went for a swim. I
wish you all could have seen her; what an active diva!
Below are screen captures from the ele-cam of two intrepid girls enjoying
a winter dip in the pond.