The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

Asian Ele-Diary 2008

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.

Jenny on the go... June 2006


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 adventure.

Slide Show


July 21, 2008

They 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.

But 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 ever.

Happy anniversary Shirley!



Tarra, Shirley, and Bunny
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!

Enjoying the pond


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!

Dulary and Misty


April 26, 2008

In memory of Tina

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.


April 25, 2008

In memory of Barbara

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 of acceptance.

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 dreamed.

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.

Minnie, Lottie, and Queenie

Queenie, Lottie, and Minnie

Queenie's Gift
Queenie's Gift


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!

Slide Show


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 pampering.

Slide Show


March 11, 2008

In the early hours of the morning while her sisters and caregivers slept, Delhi made her transition. Her passing was silent and peaceful, she passed without waking. We are all spending the day honoring our last precious hours with her; caregivers are still fussing around her, whispering quiet goodbyes. Misty carefully touched all over Delhi’s body and then gently stepped over her, sheltering her dearly departed friend. We are honored to have been Delhi’s caregivers, thankful to be loved by such a kind and wise being. The gifts that Delhi has bestowed upon all of us have been immeasurable. We are ever grateful.

Namaste our dearest Delhi.



March 9, 2008

Delhi has been soaking in the loving kindness of her caregivers and sisters. She remains in her stall which has taken on the feel of a sacred space. Soft music flows from the front of her stall. This has become her focal point so that is where her gifts have been placed; burning candles, vases of fresh cut flowers, and figurines—all loving arranged with her Tibetan prayer flag suspended above. Delhi continues to eat but with less vigor than before. She is also drinking but her intake is greatly reduced. She savors her daily bath which has become a sweetly anticipated ritual, a deepening of connectedness for Delhi and her caregivers. It is the greatest gift to experience her calmness.

The past three days we have noticed a shift; Delhi is sometimes less present, she is somewhere else while still being here. Her less present state does not feel bad, it just feels different—like she is somewhere else. When she is with us she is incredibly soft and relaxed, light as a feather, floating and filled with joy. As we recognize that it is possible that Delhi’s time is nearing we are thankful for the guidence we have received; helping us to understand how to support Delhi’s transition without burdening her with our fears. Reciting Delhi’s prayer brings us peace and reassurance.

Delhi’s prayer: Delhi, I pray for your safe journey; unencumbered, light-footed and protected. I pray for your safe journey to where your spirit needs to go to.



March 6, 2008

The first warm day in some time found Billie in the pond; she had a blast! Minnie and Lottie found their fun by chasing after the youngest canines at the Q barn; Missie-Miai and Jessie-man. What a sight; two frisky dogs making wide circles around two playful elephants determined to create some rowdy fun…spring is on the way.


Lots of rain soaks the earth and makes Minnie’s play time even more eventful. She has pushed over some mighty big trees this rainy season and it seems she is quite proud of herself.

Minnie knocks over trees


March 3, 2008

What a day! We have remarked about the synchronicity of dates before, and this only reinforces our belief that there are no coincidences. Thirteen years ago today the Sanctuary began operations with Tarra’s arrival. Her trumpets filled the valley and the resident packs of coyotes had no idea what form of wildlife had just moved in! Also on this day four years ago, our magnificent Flora arrived. These three wonderful occurrences on the same day, who would have ever imagined?




February 29, 2008

Delhi, pictured here with her dear friend Misty standing protectively over her, is savoring her multi-species hospice care. Pampered by caregivers and elephant sisters alike, Delhi continues to be calm and comfortable. In the past two days we have noticed that she is slowing down, eating slower and sleeping for longer stretches of time. She especially favors her long baths, free choice produce banquets and cushy pillows provided by ITW Shippers of Mt. Pleasant, TN.

Misty and Delhi


February 28, 2008

Misty spent a long time with Delhi today and Delhi seemed to enjoy her company. Misty is a big girl who often has difficulty being gentle but when it comes to Delhi, Misty makes sure that she is soft, gentle, and extra careful about where she puts her feet.

Misty and Delhi


February 18, 2008

Delhi had a very good day again today—incredibly relaxed and peaceful. She slept more than normal and ate a little less, but is unbelievably calm, making it difficult to stop ourselves from curling up next to her to catch up on our sleep as well. She seemed a little more distant at times. Our Dear Delhi is starting to slow down a little more and remaining calm in the process of doing so.


February 17, 2008

Tarra came in to visit Delhi this afternoon. First Tarra played with all of the sawdust and then she spent precious time interacting with Delhi, exchanging trunk touches and smiles.


February 14, 2008

Delhi got a facial of sorts today. She has developed two small pressure wounds on the underside of her face, a place that is quite difficult to get to. This morning two of her caregivers removed the shavings and hay that were under Delhi’s head so they could flush the wounds and apply medication. Getting underneath Delhi’s massive head is no small feat since she only lifts her head for about a second at a time while shifting.

So Mary and Kat made a kind of game of it; with one person on one side of Delhi’s head and one person on the other—just like in the summer when the caregivers would help Delhi swat those big pesky horse flies that always seemed to land in the places that Delhi could not reach. Each time Delhi lifted or shifted her head, the caregivers reached underneath and grabbed out handfuls of shavings and hay. As they laughed, Delhi smiled. When the entire area around Delhi’s face and head was clean, they slipped a flake of hay under her head to give them access to the underside. This way they were able to access her eye and the small abrasion next to it. The caregivers talked to Delhi explaining exactly what they planned to do and how. They told her they would clean the wound with saline that had been warmed, for her comfort it was not cold and that they were just trying to help. Delhi not only was fine with the medical attention, she seemed to want to help out. As her eye and abrasion were being flushed she would lift her head to give better access to the area and lean into the warm-water washes of her eye. All the while, not paying attention to food treats, just engaging her two caregivers in play and assisting them in their job of caring for an absolutely amazing girl.

She really never stops amazing us and reminding each of us just how wonderful she is. It’s indescribable just how full she makes your heart feel.

Yahoo, it's Tarra birthday today—she is 34 and never looked better. Bella is still the love of her life and she continues to be the precocious wandering girl; never staying in one place too long, unless of course Bella wants to. Tarra makes her rounds of the habitat visiting all of her sisters on her journey. Whether sleeping under the stars, head dangling over the beaver dam, traversing a slick hillside or hanging out under the huge cedar lodge—Tarra is at home, the inspiration for the paradise she inhabits.

Happy Birthday Tarra!


February 13, 2008

In her time....for Delhi

The light grew stronger, but the sleeping beauty was not yet ready to
open her eyes and see the glory the light brought with it. She could
feel the warmth provided by the light and the love of those who
surrounded her. Neither energy pulling, merely there, allowing her to
choose her path. She could sense the souls of those gone ahead and
those souls caring for her now all telling her that she could choose
her own time.

Rise or fly...One would sadly let go, and the other would gladly

In due time...In her time

Merilee Newman


February 11, 2008

Our sweet Delhi continues to rest comfortably in the company of her family. A friend sent wonderful flute music for us to play for Delhi. She has been incredibly relaxed and perhaps this music is helping. All of the girls have been peaceful, keeping the energy in the barn very mellow. Today Delhi’s preferred foods were watermelon, cantaloupe and grapes. It seems what she craves changes from day to day. Her caregivers find great joy in providing treats that she savors. The back of Delhi’s stall has become a loving display of photos, candles, elephant figurines, flowers and a Tibetan prayer flag. The gifts have appeared unprompted over the past week, gifts of love from caregivers and other staff members. Delhi has given us so much over the past few years and today she is teaching us to live in the moment; no projection, no assumption, no worry—just Delhi with us in this very moment.



February 9, 2008

Two years ago today, Frieda and Billie started their new life at the Sanctuary. Labeled as notorious in their former lives as circus performers, and later as non-travelling elephants kept in isolated confinement, these two girls have proven to be nothing like their reputation. It could simply be that the environment has made them feel safe enough to let go of their previous patterns. Whatever the reason, Frieda and Billie have blossomed, and proven to be two sweet and loving members of our family. It took Billie some time to work through many of her fears, but Frieda seemed to make an instant transformation, trusting her caregivers immediately. These two wonderfully playful and vocal girls continue to remind us why the Sanctuary exists. Here, where their needs are paramount, their fear is acknowledged with compassion, and their recovery is a joy to behold.

At the Sanctuary, we have come to accept that certain dates can carry an inexplicable significance. In our experience, two powerful events often occur on the same date—years apart. We cannot explain it, but experiencing half a dozen occurrences of this phenomenom has made believers out of us. Our first experience was when Barbara passed away on Carol’s birthday, then the horrific attack on the twin towers occurring on the same date that our Jenny was rescued. Flora arrived on the same date that Tarra did, but like the other occurrences, it was years apart. The mystery continued and this time cut deep when Joanna passed away on the anniversary of Tina’s death. We thought we could take no more when Scott’s brother died on the anniversary of Jenny’s death. Then, after unloading the last of the Hawthorn girls, we realized that Lota had passed away on this very date the year before. Today, we celebrate the arrival of the last two divas, finally free, as we simultaneously honor Lota’s passing. How synchronistic is that? Lota was responsible for the raised awareness which resulted in the release of her sisters. How fitting that the anniversary of her death should fall on the date that her sisters were finally safe at the Sanctuary. We see it as kind of divine.


February 8, 2008

Delhi continues to amaze us. Following her acupuncture and enema treatments, Delhi has begun to defecate normally, giving her caregiver an excuse to spend more time tending to her, insuring that her bed of sawdust is clean and dry. We switched her meds again and she continues to take them readily. We all share the joy and honor of getting to know dear Delhi, whether in person or through cyberspace—strangely there seems to be no barrier when it comes to these gentle giants. We ask that you join us in prayer for Delhi’s safe journey by using these inspired words. If we pray these words, and just these words, our voices and love will bond together creating the wave of loving energy that will protect Delhi as she makes her journey, remembering that where she is going is not necessarily for us to know, but for us to unconditionally support.

Delhi’s prayer:
Delhi, I pray for your safe journey; unencumbered, light-footed and protected.
I pray for your safe journey to where your spirit needs to go to.



February 7, 2008

Today we celebrate the two year anniversary of Ronnie and Debbie’s arrival at the Sanctuary. The relationship shared by these two girls since their arrival has not changed; they are loving, loyal and protective of each other. They include the rest of the elephants in their family but clearly thrive on each other's company. What a match, Ronnie our smallest divas, full of energy, self confidence and spunk, and Debbie, more subdued, the largest of the divas; 11feet tall and 11,000 pounds. While Debbie is laid back, Ronnie is a spit-fire, but they both share the same sweet disposition towards their caregivers. Debbie carries a tremendous scar along her jaw bones, and up and down her back legs, suggesting that at one time she might have been considered difficult to handle and therefore trained with a heavy hand. Ronnie can be stubborn, especially if she thinks her behavior is being controlled, but as soon as she remembers she has the freedom to say no, her eyes light up and she cooperates. Being able to make their own choices sure has its advantages, not only for the elephants but for the caregivers as well.



February 6, 2008

Although Delhi was showing no signs of discomfort, we decided to be proactive and bring in Dr. Mikota to do acupuncture on Delhi to help move her bowels. Delhi was awesome, accepting the treatment with only a couple of comments—the guttural verbalization she makes to remind her caregivers that she is in charge and calls the shots. We all reassured her that she indeed is still in charge. A few hours after the acupuncture treatment Delhi received a warm water enema. After about twenty minutes she began to defecate. Again, she was calm and showed no pain. Acupuncture and warm water enemas are a gentle way to stimulate Delhi’s bowels and seemed to be a good treatment combo for her. Her system is slowing down as she gracefully moves through her process. Caregivers continue to shower Delhi with love and care, taking turns being with her 24/7.


February 4, 2008

Dr. Steven Scott paid Delhi a visit this morning. He spent some time being brought up to the moment on her vitals and caregiver observations. She continues to rest comfortably and shows no concern or fear. She is eating hay and produce, bananas were her favorite today. We are grateful that she is continuing to take her oral pain meds so that we don't have to give her shots; that is a blessing.



February 2, 2008

Delhi settled in for another of her long naps early Thursday morning and has not risen. The option of lifting her in a sling was discussed and rejected due to Delhi's advanced age (62+ years) and terminal foot disease. Alternatively, it was decided to keep her comfortable and pain free while supporting her through her process. Last night, Misty took turns sleeping next to Delhi then protectively standing over her while Delhi slept. All of the elephants remain calm and peaceful in Delhi's presence. She is eating, drinking periodically and seems quite content. We switched her pain reliever from banimine to ibuprofen today. She was amazing. The grand lady, who in the past would clamp her mouth shut tight and refuse to accept nasty tasting meds hidden in any medium, graciously accepted twenty-five apples and oranges, mostly oranges, with one 800mg ibuprofen pill in each one. She savored the fruit, then stretched, rested, savored the next and then stretched until each of her pills were eaten. Lauren, Kat, Scott, Mary, Carol, Misty and Dulary continue to shower Delhi with love and constant physical attention. Delhi is an angel, we are so blessed to be in her presence. She may be leaving us from this physical plane but never will she leave us from the world of wise souls, watching over us as we continue our work for her and her sisters. Please send light and peaceful thoughts of acceptance for our Grand Dame. True to her advanced species she would not want us to worry, because worry is wasteful—instead of worry, send love. The most profound thing you can do for dear Delhi right now is to open your heart in love and acceptance.

Misty and Delhi sleeping together

You might not know that Liz and Queenie performed at Benson's Wild Animal Park for many years before being auctioned off and purchased by the Hawthorn Corporation. Yes, these two ladies have been together their entire captive life. So, it is probably no coincidence that when it came time to pair up the elephants for transport to the Sanctuary two years ago, Lizzie and Queenie were a pair. The interesting thing is that upon their arrival we saw that Queenie clearly felt a strong bond with Minnie and Lottie, but not Lizzie. As soon as she got out of the trailer and saw her two best friends, Queenie dashed over to Lottie and Minnie and has been the third member of that group ever since. Lizzie was not dejected, in fact, she had a secret fondness for Billie and Frieda which she was not able to foster while at Hawthorn. Over these two years of freedom at the Sanctuary, Lizzie has found acceptance and companionship with two of the Hawthorn Corporation's most misunderstood girls. Over the past year Lizzie, Billie and Frieda have been inseparable. Such a wonderful set of trios; affectionate, compassionate and all deeply attached to each other. Now Queenie can hang out with the more adventurous girls that wander the habitat at all hours of the day and night while little Lizzie has her friends who prefer a more secure and quiet life.

Liz and Queenie at Benson's Wild Animal Park in the early 1960s


January 31, 2008

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!


January 26, 2008

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!


January 25, 2008

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 see.

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!


January 19, 2008

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.


January 17, 2008

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 front feet.

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 we are.


January 10, 2008

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.

Winkie and Sissy


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.

a winter dip