The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

African Ele-Diary 2004

December 29, 2004

Today Tange was hanging out in the barn while one of her caregivers was cleaning. Shawn noticed that Tange had something on her head. This is not unusual, Tange likes to place things on her head and wear them around; branches, hay and clumps of mud, but this was different. On closer look Shawn saw that Tange had picked up one of her favorite toys, the plastic tire, and placed it on top of her head. She proceeded to walk around the barn, careful not to cause the tire to fall. When it did slip off Tange picked it up and carefully placed it just right so it would balance. She then continued about her business walking around the barn. YES, Tange is easily entertained!

Tange and her tire hat


December 21, 2004

Tange and Zula spent a good part of the day together playing in the mud hole and exploring the woods. Zula was nowhere in sight.

See Slide Show! 


December 20, 2004

Zula, Tange and Flora have been integrated. They spent last night together inside the barn and today Flora and Tange spent the day playing. Zula was in the habitat but showed no interest in engaging in activities with Flora and Tange. The days ahead will be wonderful to observe.

These sunny winter days are perfect for leisurely exploring the habitat. Tange always makes sure she packs a lunch for the trip.

Tange packs a lunch


December 1, 2004
Flora, Tange and Zula have settled in nicely. The three are quite fond of each other with Flora and Zula exchanging the dominant role almost continually. They are still working on that issue but at least they do not display overt aggression, just posturing. They interact with one another continually but since their habitat is thick with trees EleCam viewers seldom get to see the exchange. For the past two months all three have spent all daylight hours and many hours in the evening, off in the habitat doing their own thing. This includes browsing, napping and exploring. Their favorite area is the southwest corner of the habitat. Usually they head out that direction immediately following their breakfast and are not seen again for several hours.
Flora has spent a great deal of time redesigning her forest for more overhead natural light. She is felling trees and opening the place up, which has resulted in not only more natural light but also the growth of new vegetation. EleCam viewers can see the number of trees that are down. The good thing is that she has hundreds of acres of trees to play with which should keep her busy for many years ahead. Once she has completed the redesign of her multi-acre yard she will no doubt begin on the larger, multi-hundred-acre habitat.
Even though Tange and Zula may stay gone all day Flora usually comes back just before the 5pm feed. She is a creature of habit and prefers to be in the barn for at least a short time in the early evening. With that need satisfied, she then returns to the habitat and keeps herself busy until the late night feeding. It is Flora's habit to remain in the barn until sunrise the next morning. Many times Zula also can be found sleeping in the barn but Tange likes to head back out into the habitat, always finding something to keep herself occupied.
With all the exercise Zula engages in, the old injuries to her hip and ankle are giving her no problem. In fact, her caregiver watched one day this summer as Zula traversed a muddy hillside to get to where Tange and Flora were. She had avoided the muddy hills for several days but finally built up her courage and executed the challenge with ease. From that day forward she has not hesitated when faced with such a challenge.
For those who wonder why Flora is not out in the big habitat with the other girls, and when she will be, the answer is simple. Flora will be allowed in with the other elephants when she demonstrates that she can control her aggression towards them. This is not our first experience with an elephant that wanted to be aggressive to another elephant and we know that timing is everything. We must give Flora the time necessary for her to develop a relationship with Zula. The situation might be different if Zula were as healthy as Flora but that is simply not the case. Zula's old injuries could put her in danger of reinjuring if Flora was aggressive. We are pleased with Flora's progress and Tange and Zula's acceptance of her. Considering that all three of these elephants have not lived in a healthy social environment since infancy, we must be patient and allow them to learn to relate to one another in a healthy way. So far we are pleased with their progress.

October 27, 2004
Zula found the perfect tree for her much-needed ear scratch.

See Slide Show! 


October 15, 2004

Zula and Tange has been exploring their habitat on a daily basis. They have established favorite sleeping areas in isolated area in the woods. Using their feet they excavate dirt and leaves creating a soft sleeping surface. From aerial photographs you can locate these sleeping locations which otherwise are hidden in the woods.

Tange's back left foot

Tange's back left foot

Today caregivers examined the elephant's feet and did a little corrective foot trimming where necessary.

One of the benefits of a large natural space is that elephants walk and explore which helps keep their foot pads and nails worn down. A healthy foot pad has "tracts" which give the elephant traction while engaging in normal behaviors including walking, running, playing and maneuvering in different substraights. The pad should be thick to protect the foot from injury. If the pad is too thin and without tracks the foot can easily bruise and provides no traction. Without traction the elephant may slip and fall, causing injury.

Using their feet to excavate for mud wallows, beds, minerals, and to severe vegetation and tear bark from trees keeps their nails trimmed and healthy. All this activity has the added benefit of increased joint mobility which helps to ward off arthritis, a common ailment for captive elephants.


September 29 , 2004 - 1:00 a.m. CST
Zula takes a snooze in the full-moonlight while Tange keeps herself entertained, never far away. (Captured on the EleCam)

Tange and Zula at night


September 28 , 2004

Tange, Zula and Flora have forged a kind and caring relationship.  All three were playing along the corral today, as seen in this Ele-cam capture.

At play


September 25 , 2004

Flora hung out at the fence while Kathi cleaned up. She was very interested in the wheelbarrel.


Flora enjoyed her pumpkin treat.

See Slide Show! 


September 13, 2004

Zula gets the opportunity to check out Dr. Scott.

Zula checks out Dr. Scott

The vet makes a visit.



September 12 , 2004

When it is time to play together, Zula, Tange and Flora all come inside. Today they were a muddy mess and had a blast getting the barn just as muddy.

See Slide Show! 


Zula's arthritis has shown a marked improvement since her arrival. Today she had a blast playing in the mud!

Zula loves the mud.



August 25 , 2004

A tasty treat arrives
Friends of Tange and Zula from Albany, Georgia, sent the girls a tasty gift basket.


August 16, 2004

Tange and Zula got very silly, playing with each other, the trees, and showing off for the camera. They are very comfortable with their new life.

See Slide Show! 


August 1, 2004

Tange and Zula are exploring further into their habitat and only recently discovered the "valley". This is a open area with pastures and hardwoods. On this day Tange discovered a tasty tulip poplar tree. With expert precision she "tusked" the trunk of the tree separating the bark just enough to grab it with her trunk. It took a few tugs but she was able to tear a strip of bark from the tree. This was the perfect tasty tidbit of elephant fodder. Zula preferred to munch on branches and leaves.

See Slide Show!

July 30, 2004

Tange and her "hat"
Tange sporting her hay wig.

Tange and Zula have several places in the forest where they have excavated sleeping pads. They clear a few trees in an area where the substrate is loose and the undergrowth is soft. Their "beds" are used over and over again for afternoon naps. 

Sleeping pad Sleeping pad

July 14, 2004

Tange and Zula finally had the opportunity to get close-up and personal with a 4-wheeler. They will learn to appreciate this vehicle because it will bring them their meals-on-wheels as they spend more and more time deep in the habitat. Flora is familiar with 4-wheelers and she is not afraid of the noisy machine but Tange and Zula were not sure if it could be trusted.

See Slide Show!

Flora and Zula have finally begun to show true progress. They search each other out and enjoy each other's company. An ele-fan caught this interaction on the Ele-cam.

July 13, 2004

Flora and Zula have become very good friends. Obviously, they have learned to trust each other and find that they enjoy each others company.

Flora and Zula


July 11, 2004

Tange returns from a morning in the woods. (Ele-cam capture)

Tange returns from a morning in the woods

July 10, 2004

Flora has become quite relaxed in her new environment. She, Tange and Zula get along very well. Each evening Flora can be seen deep in the woods. Tonight she was on the EleCam for quite some time leisurely foraging through the trees.

Flora in the woods

June 14, 2004 @ 7:30 p.m.

Party time again at the African barn. This time Zula also got in on the fun. Zula and Flora had spent 30 minutes playfully trunk wrestling over the outside corral. Tange also wanted to have some fun, so she came inside the barn and began playing with the floor mats, flipping them over and kicking them around. Her activity got the other elephants' attention. Zula and Flora entered the barn, and with Zula and Tange in one stall and Flora in adjacent stall, they all began flipping and kicking the mats, rolling them around, running, skidding back and forth, ears flopping, trumpeting playfully. Then all of a sudden all three froze, standing perfectly still for approximately 5 seconds. Then, as if an invisible director had yelled “action!” all three simultaneously begin kicking and playing again. They did this 4 or 5 times. Tange got down several times on her wrists rubbing her face into the mats. Flora got down, too, and even Zula joined in on the antics. They carried on for 30 minutes or so before again taking the party outside where Tange was seen running through the yard carrying a tree trunk over her head. Eventually, the three girls exhausted themselves and came back into the barn where they calmly grazed on hay, drank lots of water and eventually napped. These three wonderful elephants are becoming fast friends.


June 12, 2004

It was another hot day and late in the afternoon when Flora came inside the barn. Tange was outside playing in the mud hole, splashing and rolling around when a low, faint rumble could be heard coming from the direction of the barn.

Tange left the mud hole and came running inside the barn drenched with mud. She approached Flora who was waiting in the adjacent stall, obviously expecting her. As Tange stood against the divider stall, Flora reached over and began scraping the mud off Tange’s back and throwing it onto herself. Soon the two were equally covered with mud and rubbing themselves against each other through the bars, even getting down on their wrists and rubbing their heads on the floor mats. The fun escalated as Tange began flipping up and kicking the mats in her stall. She used her agile front feet to roll the mats up and kick them like a soccer ball across the barn. Flora joined in the fun kicking her mats too — her preferred method was to use her back feet. Then the vocalizations began; they were kicking their mats back and forth and trumpeting loudly. As the keepers watched, Tange and Flora took their fun outside and began running in the woods, spinning and pushing down trees. Joyous trumpets filled the air along with the snaps and cracks of falling trees.

Note: pictures were not taken for fear it would distract the elephants from their play


May 25, 2004

Tange really loves the mud.

See slide show! 


May 23, 2004

Tange loves the mud.

See slide show! 


May 15, 2004

Tange and Zula had a blast "helping" Scott clear some of the fallen trees to make way for a mud wallow.

See slide show!


May 3, 2004

Today was a major breakthrough for Flora and Zula! EleCam viewers were treated to a wonderful display of playful interchange between Zula and Flora this afternoon. For nearly an hour they intertwined trunks, groped each others faces and generally engaged in very affectionate behavior. Flora got a little pushy at times which did not concern Zula. After about 30 minutes Tange approached to get in on the fun. Both Flora and Zula diverted their attention to Tange temporarily but then quickly turned their focus back to each other. It was a glorious display to watch.

The friendship grows
Composite photo from the African Ele-Cam


April 27, 2004

It is watermelon season. All of the girls love watermelon; it is one thing they do not want to share.

See slide show!


April 12, 2004

(10:00 p.m.) Flora started the whole thing off by trying to get the other girls to play. She wiggled, spun around and climbed on the gates dividing their stalls, trying her best to get Tange and Zula to play. She dashed back and forth between her two stalls and then ran outside. She was so full of herself, carrying her head real high, she threw her huge ears out and flung her trunk out at the night. She spun around and then dashed back inside the barn. Again she tried to entice Tange and Zula to play and this time it worked. Flora, with her ears all floppy and her massive belly bouncing back and forth exited the barn in a cloud of dust. Moments later Tange dashed out her door, quickly followed by Zula. Together they danced and trumpeted, crashing through the fallen trees, disappearing into the moonlit darkness. Minutes passed, then almost a half an hour when Kathi drove up the road for the night feeding. The girls came storming in from the woods, Flora arriving first. She pirouetted in front of her door and then disappeared inside only to reappear when she discovered that Tange and Zula were still outside. With ears flared and head held high, Flora came charging out of the barn and let our a mighty trumpet, spun and dashed back inside the barn. A moment later Tange came tearing in the barn and let out her mighty trumpet. Zula would not be outdone, she entered the barn announcing herself with an equally deafening blast of "Hey, I'm home". The bonding has begun!


April 10, 2004

Flora and Zula are really working on getting along. Several times over the past few days they have met over the fence. Sometimes they touch, other times they simply stand close. Even when Flora tugs on Zula's ears and tries to intimidate her or slap her with her trunk, Zula remains calm and approachable.

Flora and Zula


Flora and Tange share much of their time together. Zula joins in periodically.

See Slide Show!


April 9, 2004

Tange really enjoyed playing in the mud today. First she mock-charged a tree stump and then plunged her head down into the mud...after that it was her entire body. Elephants may be the only creature on earth to truly appreciate the many uses of mud; a toy, bug repellant and sun screen.

See Slide Show!


March 20, 2004

Flora had a blast playing in a dirt pile this afternoon. First she dug in the dirt to loosen it up. Then she threw the dirt all over her body; on top of her head, her back and even under her belly. Finally she gave a might shake, dumping all of the dirt off her body back onto the ground. She finally tired of the activity and walked away.

See Slide Show!

Everything is going well with Flora, Tange and Zula. Since Tange is submissive to Flora they get along just fine.  They intertwine trunks and are comfortable being tactile with each other. On several occasions Flora and Zula have interacted over the corral but they still do not trust each other. Zula has taken a bit of a submissive posture towards Flora several times.

See Slide Show!

March 17, 2004

Flora enjoyed two new jolly balls. She tried every way possible to squish them, to no avail. She sure had fun trying.

See Slide Show!

March 15, 2004

The stiffness in Zula's front leg is nearly gone. She and Tange played and played in the trees this morning. Zula was bending both her elbow and wrist with no problem. We are so pleased that she has recovered.


March 14, 2004

Scott left the African barn at 7pm. It was dark but the elephants still had access outside the barn. When the engine of the 4-wheeler fired up, Flora raced to her outside door, all excited. As soon as the 4-wheeler passed in front of the barn Tange and Zula dashed outside, spinning in circles and playing, ears flapping. They ran down the road that the 4-wheeler was on and spun in circles around each other. Zula had no problem maneuvering on her "sore" leg. They danced a little more, mock-charged a tree and then, with Zula in the lead, dashed back, full speed to the barn. Flora stood inside, perfectly still, listening. Upon their return Flora rushed the corral and solicited interactions with both Tange and Zula. All three enjoyed the excitement.

Zula's leg is much better. Even though her leg is sore, that does not slow her activity at all. At this recovery rate, the soreness should be completely gone in a day or two. Tange and Flora are very comfortable with each other. Flora and Zula continue to interact but they are not yet comfortable with each other. Flora displays at Zula quite a bit and although Zula does not display, she is not intimidated. We plan to give them all the time and space they need to develop a healthy relationship.

Zula, Tange, & Flora
Zula, Tange, and Flora


March 11, 2004

Flora continues to have a bit of difficulty relating to Zula. Just when it looks like she and Zula will have a meeting of the minds Flora acts aggressively towards her. This morning the two were interacting through the barn stall, touching gently when Zula turned her back to Flora in a submissive posture. We were happy to see this display as it would indicate that Zula was taken a submissive position to Flora. Flora reacted in a physically aggressive manner, pushing on the stall bars intimidating Zula. Her display was first directed at Zula and then turned on both caregivers present. It seems that Flora is dealing with some strong emotions that she cannot understand nor control at this point. After a few minutes she settled down and was responsive to the requests of her caregivers.

The remainder of the day she was calm and cooperative with her caregivers and the other elephants. Although Zula does not trust Flora, Tange is developing a strong bond with her. Tange continually visited with Flora all day long, exchanging trunk touches and affection. We have the space and time to allow Flora to work through her demons. Knowing that she witnessed her herd being culled and now yet another move from a familiar place, we understand how much emotional baggage she has to work through. We will support her in every way as she makes her transition.


March 10, 2004

Zula's leg continues to be sore so she was let into the night yard today while Tange and Flora went out into the habitat. The two enjoyed each other's company all day. Zula seemed to appreciate the opportunity to not have to keep an eye on Flora since there is still a bit of distrust between the two.

At 4:40pm the bulldozer was coming down the road and Flora thought this was great fun. She trumpeted, flapped her ears and shook her head dramatically, then dashed off into the trees with Tange in pursuit. For the next half hour the two played and played and played, not with each other necessarily but in proximity to each other. They had a blast! Zula in the meantime was overseeing a welding project outside of her yard. With a calm intensity she appeared to be quite engaged with the activity.

At 5:45 after Tange approached the barn, Flora followed and proceeded to use Tange's backside as a scratching post. She rubbed her head and face and Tange did not appear to mind in the least. When they came inside the barn Flora stopped for a few moments and interacted gently with Zula and then moved over to her favorite place in the barn.

This was the first time that Tange and Zula had been separated. They rumbled and stood close but really did not make a big deal about being apart. A good day.


March 8, 2004

Tange returned to the barn several times today to interact with Flora but Zula did not. Her front leg is still stiff. She returned to the barn tonight, came right in and approached Flora's stall. Again they had positive interactions but it is obvious that Zula is being guarded around Flora.


March 7, 2004

This morning when all the gates where opened in the barn and leading into the habitat, Tange and Zula went into what is called is known as the night yard with Flora. After four nights of positive interactions inside the barn and two days of positive interactions in the habitat together everyone was comfortable, including all the elephants.

Apparently Flora was not sure that Zula had completely surrendered her dominance and on one approach Flora pushed Zula from behind causing her back legs to buckle underneath her. Flora pushed Zula a second time frightening her enough to cause her to let out a yell. The remainder of the day Flora relentlessly followed Zula around. When Tange tried to play interference Flora would cut her off, continuing her focus on Zula. By the afternoon Zula was stiff in her front leg. She was given a remedy for the pain and stiffness and she and Tange spent the day in another area of the habitat leaving Flora alone, standing in front of the barn. What better lesson to learn; if you play the bully and run off your friends, you will be alone and lonely. Zula and Tange did not return to the barn throughout the night as they had previous nights. Zula continued to receive remedies for the pain and stiffness overnight and the next day.


March 6, 2004

4:46 p.m. CST
Tange, Zula and Flora converged in front of the barn in anticipation of their evening meal. With only a few feet between the three of them, they could not have been more comfortable.  What a sight!
1:00 p.m. CST
Today Flora, Tange and Zula were all released into the habitat together. It was interesting to watch. The mighty Zula took off. As soon as she saw Flora entering the yard, Zula high-tailed it out towards the woods. She was not going to wait around to see what Flora's intentions were. Tange was a little more comfortable with the situation. She spent much time approaching Flora, staying just a few feet from her. Flora just wanted to approach them both.

For the next couple of hours they did this dance of "I'll come close, stand still then retreat in another direction. It was a beautiful dance. Flora pursued but not aggressively; she obviously is hungry to interact. Tange soon became comfortable with Flora being in her space; Zula not so much. The great thing is there was no aggression, and when one of the elephants wanted to leave the scene there was nothing stopping them. This very positive first encounter reinforces our belief that what captive elephants need is room. Room to roam and forage for their own food, room to engage in physical activities that stimulate their mind and body and room enough to retreat from a situation that they are not comfortable with. Throughout the remainder of the afternoon all three elephants did the dance; wandering close, standing for a short time and then wandering off again. Such a positive start.

See Slide Show!


March 5, 2004
11:00 p.m. CST

What a touching sight. Tangy, Zula and Flora, calm and comfortably interacting with each other. All three are very tactile with each other. No pushing or power plays tonight—only gentle touching. Tange settled in for a nap in stall two and a few minutes later Flora laid down in stall four. No bobbing, swaying or aggressive behavior—just calm and quiet. Tange got up and wandered outside and then back in to check on Flora who was still sleeping in stall four. Tange was not as quiet as she could have been or perhaps she intended to wake Flora because Flora got up and immediately walked over and began to interact with Tange. A little more interaction amongst all three; gentle trunk touches in the mouth and around the face and then Flora laid down again to catch up on her beauty rest. All is well.


March 4, 2004

Flora slept soundly last night. At one point Zula entered the barn and walked in Flora's direction. Instead of attempting to intimidate the sleeping Flora, Zula gently smelled in her direction, stood for a few seconds gazing at her and then quietly walked away.


All day they continued to share trunk touches and gentle pushes. Flora demonstrated her strength by pushing over many trees along the mutual fence line. Zula appeared less than impressed and Tange was entertained. Today Tange had several opportunities to interact with Flora without interruption from Zula.

Tonight the elephants will have access to a common barrier inside the barn. Until this time they have been separated by a 30' wide stall. Utilizing a common barrier inside the barn was the next step to sorting out their relationships so they can be put together.

They interacted all night, on and off both inside and out. They are making incredible progress.


March 3, 2004

Flora arrived calm, safe and sound. She walked right out of the trailer without hesitation following her lifelong caregiver, David Balding. After checking out her new barn and testing the toy dangling from one of the pipes, she enjoyed her smashed banana, bran and peanut butter birthday cake. It was lined with whole bananas and grapes; she loved it. After she finished her cake David showed her where the built in waterer was. She would have found it eventually; elephants has a great sense of smell, but it was sweet to see David helping his dear friend, one more time.
The strong bond that David and Flora share is obvious, they are both so comfortable with each other. Since Flora's retirement from performing two years ago, she and David have been together only periodically. Flora has been boarding at the Metro Miami zoo in preparation for her final and permanent move to the Sanctuary. We are confident that once Flora bonds with her new sisters her emotional needs will be met. David has been Flora's provider and protector all these years she will never forget him. Our goal is that with the help of her new family she will no longer need his emotional support.

See the Media Coverage from

4:00 p.m. CST
Tange and Zula were allowed into the barn to meet the new arrival. Flora has been in contact with other elephants throughout her lifetime but Tange and Zula have not seen another elephant for nearly three decades. With a stall dividing them, Zula and Flora reached out, smelling and gesturing towards each other. Zula put on quite a display for Flora who appeared to be less than impressed. At first Tange stayed out side. After Zula seemed to have completed her communication with Flora which consisted of a display of agility, strength and her sense of dominance, Tange came inside the barn. Tange, a submissive individual, did not display nor attempt to intimate Flora but did reach out for her, tentatively. Flora responded in kind. These interactions, at a distance, continued for nearly an  hour until all relaxed and began to eat. All was calm.

See Slide Show!

6:00 p.m. CST
Flora was released into a yard which is adjacent to a yard that Tange and Zula were in. Immediately Zula engaged Flora, who responded. The reached their trunks high into the air almost in a "I am taller than you" display. Tange stood by watching. There was much body language, displaying and touching but nothing overtly aggressive. Finally after some time Zula tired of the activity and walked away. Tange immediately approached the corral and reached out for Flora who gently returned the gesture. There are no dominance issues here. Tange was quite comfortable being submissive. Zula returned, displacing Tange, this time acting a bit aggressive. It appeared she wanted to prevent Flora and Tange from interacting. These were positive interactions and a sign of the good to come.

See Slide Show!

8:00 a.m. CST
Flora slept well. She was given access to the entire length of the trailer overnight (both cages). In the morning she was quiet and ate and drank well. Without hesitation, she moved back into the rear cage of the trailer in preparation for the last leg of her trip. All is well.

March 2, 2004
7:00 a.m. CST
Flora walked, without hesitation, into the elephant transport trailer and is safely on the road. Our GPS system will be tracking her trip from Miami to the Sanctuary with updates throughout the day and tomorrow until her scheduled arrival at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, March 3.


February 26, 2004

Tange and Zula experienced snow for the first time in their lives. Shortly after 8:00 a.m. Tange and Zula wanted outside. The barn door had been closed over night because the temperature had dropped. To their obvious amusement, it had snowed. They were very animated when they first started walking in the snow, which was only a light dusting but enough to stimulate play behavior. They dragged their feet and played in the snow with their trunks. By the end of the day most of the snow had melted.

See Slide Show!


February 21, 2004

The weather was glorious today with plenty of sun. Tange and Zula spent a little more time close to the barn but several times throughout the day continued to explore the woods beyond. Tange appears to be much more inclined to just go off into the wilderness. Zula tends to prefer to stay close to civilization, at least for now.

See Slide Show!


February 20, 2004

Tange and Zula are here, safe and sound. They arrived last night, February 19 at 7:30 pm. Kathi stayed in the barn to be sure that it was indeed elephant proof. It is so far.

This morning when the doors were opened, Tange and Zula hesitated for about 20 seconds. Then it was out the door and they have not stopped since. Tange, believe it or not, the one too scared to walk down the ramp, led Zula on what appeared to be a wild turkey chase. It was wonderful. They were up and down hill and dale, through the briars, felling trees, crack-smash, crumble. What a joy to watch their abandonment.

At 7:50 pm CT Tange had not ceased her wandering . It was 60’ and plenty warm for her to stay out. You could hear her in the distance exploring every inch of her new world. Zula tried to keep up with Tange but simply could not. She repeatedly doubled back and stood as if expecting Tange to join her but that was not to be. The fearful Tange was on a grand adventure and Zula the fearless was more or less holding down the fort.

At 8:12 pm CT, rumbling could be heard through the darkness. Zula froze, spread her ears and then more rumbles were heard. Out of the night appeared Tange, calm and confident, on her way back home. What a glorious sight. Zula greeted Tange with warm affection. Only a moment later both Tange and Zula turned and headed back out into the habitat with the star-speckled sky looming over their heads. Two silhouetted giants disappearing into the trees, what joy.

See Slide Show!

February 19, 2004

7:36 p.m. CST
They're here! The Crew is setting up the ramp for Zula and Tange to exit the trailer and enter their new barn.

See Slide Show!

First night at the Sanctuary

A composite taken by the Afri-cam the night Tange and Zula arrived

6:00 p.m. CST
Tange and Zula were 15 miles east of Columbia, TN and should arrive at the Sanctuary right on schedule at 7:00 p.m. CST.

4:00 p.m. CST
The Girls are in Cullman, AL. Zula took a drink of water but Tange had no interest. Scott says they are calm and attentive and continue to eat well. It won't be long now.

2:00 p.m. CST
Tange and Zula continue to remain calm. Right now they are about 60 miles south of Birmingham. If they can make it through the "big city" without experiencing traffic they will arrive home on time — 7:00 p.m. CST.

12:00 noon CST
Tange and Zula are traveling calmly. They are eating and seem to be comfortable with the ride. Right now they are in Bleeker, AL.

10:00 a.m. CST
Zula and Tange are loaded and on their way!

Zula and Tange are loaded up
Tange and Zula are loaded in the trailer

Zula's departure photo
Zula has a good teething bar


February 18, 2004

Last minute preparations are underway to be sure everything is ready for Tange and Zula's arrival. Scott and Angie the truck driver, left from Hohenwald at 3:00 p.m. They will help load up the girls and be on their way as early as possible tomorrow morning. In the meantime the rest of the crew is taking care of last minute details. The barn is complete and beautiful. Seeing it at night seems unreal; it almost glows. The floors are washed one more time, food is prepared and toys are made ready. The welcome home sign is we wait.

See Slide Show!


February 12, 2004

It has been exactly six short weeks since Tange and Zula were introduced to the trailer that will transport them to their new home. Thanks to the thoughtful support of their keepers, Kathi Murray, Barbara Anderson and John Joseph Brown, Tange and Zula have overcome their fear of entering and being held inside the trailer.

By incorporating the trailer introduction into their daily routine, the elephants have been given the time and support to become comfortable with a situation that otherwise could cause unnecessary stress. Each day meant new challenges for the elephants and their keepers who managed to create and maintain a healthy situation using only positive reinforcement.

Tange now matches Zula in her comfort level inside the trailer. Although Zula has been ready to move for weeks, she has been patient with Tange who had a few more fears to overcome.

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February 4, 2004

Dr. Lori Tapp has been working with Tange's keepers to help her work through her fear of entering the transport trailer.Together their efforts are paying off. Dr. Tapp prescribed gelsemium sempervrens to help Tange deal with her fear. This particular homeopathic remedy addresses an individual's fear or distrust of a new situation especially when there is an expectation of performance involved, kind of like when a human experiences stage fright. Of course, we would not call this stage fright; Tange is an elephant and does not see this situation the same way we do, but her body is reacting in the same way to the situation. The remedy appears to be the right choice at this time as Tange has settled down and is entering the trailer readily. To her keepers' surprise, Tange has chosen to enter the trailer from the side door and stand in her compartment backwards. As far as everyone is concerned Tange can stand anyway she likes as long as she is comfortable.

For those unfamiliar with the use of homeopathy, remedies comes in the form of a small pellet that is dissolved in water. For most elephants it is best administered directly in the mouth. Once accustomed to having the liquid squirted into their mouth most elephants welcome the remedy. You can see in the photo that Kathi has just given Tange a treatment. A syringe (without a needle) which Kathi is holding in her hand, is used like a squirt gun and is a convenient way to administer the remedy.

Tange gets extra attention

Since Tange is making such great progress we have scheduled the move date. Tange and Zula will load into their trailer late in the day Feb 17 and will arrive at the Sanctuary the next morning Feb 18. We hope to have the AfriCam set up and ready to broadcast this monumental event!


January 30, 2004

Zula continues to be a stellar student, more comfortable each day in the trailer. The past couple of days the elephant keepers have focused on getting Tange comfortable enough to come further inside the trailer and have sort of left Zula to do her own thing...and she has. Zula was observed "loading herself" several times, calmly walking in the side door of the trailer, moving into place in her personal compartment and then standing quietly eating hay. After a short time she would exit the trailer and then turn around and reload herself again with no keeper prompting at all.
Tange is doing well also but she seems to have hit a block, unwilling to move further inside the trailer. The staff has decided to be true to their philosophy to allow Tange to load in her own time. This has seemed to help Tange, the pressure is off and Tange can work through the fear that is preventing her from going futher inside the trailer. It won't be long now.

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January 23, 2004

It was Tange's turn today and she did great. With Zula off in another area of the yard distracted by an attentive keeper with lots of treats, Tange was given time to further explore the trailer. Although she chose not to go all the way to the front of trailer, she did enter the trailer getting all four feet inside.
After Tange's session, Zula demonstrated her comfort with the trailer by entering and exiting several times. The difference today was that the side cage door was closed, blocking Zula's exist from the side. No problem; Zula entered, walked to the front of the trailer, munched on some treats and then calmly backed out the same door she had entered. Clearly, Zula trusts her keepers and is experiencing no fear of being confined. A another GREAT day.

Tange and Zula are doing great!
Tange (left) and Zula (right) are doing great!

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January 22, 2004

A Banner Day!!! Zula went all the way inside the trailer. This is wonderful news. Zula decided that she wanted to go inside the trailer to investigate. Knowing the elephants as Kathi does, she decided to hang out inside the trailer. The idea was that the elephants would be interested in coming all the way inside the trailer to see what Kathi was worked. Zula is now very comfortable walking all the way inside the trailer and stopping to munch on hay. She was so proud of herself that she would not share the glory with Tange. These two elephants have lived together their entire lives, they know each other very well. Tange was satisfied to watch as Zula was the center of attention; her time will come...soon.

During a second session in the afternoon Zula proved to be a stellar and cooperative student. Kathi decided to give Zula an opportunity to familiarize herself with the pipe that will divide her from Tange during the trip. Zula was completely relaxed as she entered the trailer and walked all the way to the front where John was positioned with treats. The side door of the trailer was open so that Zula could exit at any time if she wanted. Everyone was pleased to see that Zula remained in the trailer completely calm, enjoying the attention she was receiving for her accomplishments. Even After Kathy slid the pipe into place behind Zula she did not react negatively. In fact, she did not react at all. After taking a step back and feeling the pipe against her back legs she hesitated for a moment and then took a step forward and continued to eat.  Zula, Tange and their keepers deserve praise for their accomplishments.

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January 19 - 21, 2004

Tange and Zula have grown familiar with the trailer to the point of boredom. They are not interested in investigating the trailer any further than their current status of four feet barely inside the rig. Now the keepers are challenged to find a way to interest the elephants without using negative reinforcement or deprivation. This is a very exciting time in the conditioning process. The elephants are clearly communicating that they need to have a reason to investigate further. Kathi and her team will now draw on their in-depth knowledge of both elephants and use their relationships to go to the next level.

January 12-15, 2004

Kathi calls in every day to give a fresh update on the progress made by Tange and Zula. It is always good news and interesting to hear how these wild-caught elephants are dealing with their keepers' expectations of them walking inside a metal box not much wider then they are. From the reports it appears everyone, keepers and elephants, is having fun and learning a lot from the experience.
On Monday Kathi rigged hot wire along the sides of the trailer to protect it from Tange's curious tusks. As you might imagine, the aluminum-sided trailer would be no match for the powerful tusks of an elephant. Protecting the trailer has served a double purpose. It not only protects the trailer but also directs the elephant's focus to the only area of the trailer to which they now have access; the inside. Tange was not very interested, but Zula actually got down onto her front wrists in order to duck down inside the trailer.  It is reasonable for her to be concerned about the ceiling height, but once she actually walks all the way inside she will see the ceiling is not as low as she thinks.
On Tuesday Tange and Zula had four sessions; each one went very well. The keepers changed their focus a bit to encourage the girls to remain calm, a challenge for these highly theatrical Africans. Apparently the girls caught onto the idea and calmed right down. Tange allowed Zula to "go first". Zula walked up the ramp and put her front feet inside the trailer. She stood calmly eating her treats and then backed down the ramp. Tange was standing close by, watching. Kathi reported that Zula did great and did not "grand stand" afterwards. It is really comical to watch Tange and Zula interact with their keepers and with each other; they are all about the show and the well earned treats, of course.

Kathy, John & Zula

John called to give the report on Wednesday. The pride he feels for Tange and Zula was evident in his voice as he reported the great job they had done. John has years of experience in the animal care field and is well known for his capture and restraint expertise with a wide variety of wild animals. He reported that Zula had once again walked up the ramp and placed her front feet inside the trailer as Tange calmly stood by and watched. Several times he stated how wonderful it is to allow the elephants the time to get comfortable with the trailer and not force them inside. In the ultimate compliment to Kathi and Barbara, John praised the insight of his fellow keepers, recognizing Kathi for her skills, claiming he was "learning so much".

Thursday was another successful day. At 11:15 am ET, Tange walked up the ramp and placed both front feet inside the trailer. It is wonderful that both elephants are progressing basically at the same pace. Zula began to explore the cage inside the trailer today. Tentatively she touched the overhead bars and was rewarded with treats. Both Tange and Zula are making steady progress and their keepers are immensely proud of them.


January 10 & 11, 2004

After a few days of rain and cold temperatures, Tange and Zula were able to spend some quality time with their trailer. They are making progress.

Kathi has scheduled three conditioning sessions per day. The length of the session is completely dependent on the elephant and its attention. Some sessions run longer than others. 

The keepers decided that the metal ramp leading up to the trailer was too much of a distraction, so it was removed and replaced it with a mound of dirt, ;a material the girls are very familiar with.

Tange walked right up the dirt ramp and placed a front foot inside the trailer. This may sound like a small success, but actually things are progressing as expected. It is reasonable for the elephants to take it slow and easy each step of the way. Zula also put one front foot inside the trailer, but her entrance was through the side door.

The dirt ramp was extended inside the trailer a few feet. This worked well the first day and the second day the elephants decided they wanted to know what was underneath the dirt. Just playing it safe. Smart girls!


January 8, 2004

The local Albany, GA media came out to watch as Tange and Zula's trailer conditioning continued. Zula likes a crowd and tends to want all of their attention for herself. Acting theatrical usually accomplishes that goal. While Zula danced around the yard, the trailer, Tange and her keepers, Tange once again explored the ramp and trailer. Both elephants made progress and the media had the opportunity to see what it takes to condition a wild animal to something unfamiliar.


January 4, 2004

Tange and Zula with the crew

Today was the first day Tange and Zula were able to see inside the trailer and for their keepers to see how interested they would be in walking inside. As the crew prepared to introduce Tange and Zula to the trailer, Kathi motioned to all of us to look around the side of the trailer. There were Tange and Zula, oblivious to our presence, thrashing around in their custom-made mud hole. They spent close to 20 minutes completely immersed in their play. Kathi and Barbara remarked at how unusual it was to see the elephant engage in such carefree play while a group of people were inside their yard. It was even rarer to see both elephants lie down in the mud hole together at the same time. After covering themselves with a thick layer of rich Georgia clay, Tange and Zula emerged from the mud hole and stood facing the trailer. It was obvious that they were ready for their introduction to the trailer. Kathi warned that the trailer was going to end up a muddy mess!

Both elephants had a blast checking out the inside of the trailer with their trunks. Tange walked right up to the ramp and proceeded to climb up getting three feet on the ramp. She almost put her fourth foot on the ramp but not quite. A large crowd of zoo patrons gathered on the observation deck and watched as Tange and Zula began the process of familiarizing themselves with the trailer. At one point Tange had part of her head inside the trailer and Zula decided she wanted in on all the fun. At that point both elephants were standing side by side at the back of the trailer. They took turns testing the ramp and reaching inside the trailer. Another very positive day.

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January 3, 2004

Angie maneuvered the elephant trailer down a narrow drive to the elephant yard. With precision she jockeyed the big rig around and parked it inside the elephant yard. The day before, fresh dirt had been used to fill mammoth holes in the yard created by the elephants playing in the mud. The dirt did not pack as well as expected and the truck got stuck. No problem; maintenance was radioed. Minutes later they arrived with a tractor and pulled the truck free.

At 11:00 a.m. EST Tange and Zula waited as the trailer was parked while Kathi reassured them.

At 4:00 p.m.Tange and Zula had their first opportunity to get close to the transport trailer. Kathi Murray has cared for Tange and Zula for 15 years. She knows them very well and suggested that a calm introduction, with no expectations of the girls having to climb inside the trailer right away, was best. Barbara Anderson and John Joseph Brown, the elephants' other keepers agreed with the plan.

Tange and Zula were allowed into the area where the trailer was parked. They were escorted by their keepers with words of encouragement and treats. Both elephants gently investigated the trailer, walking all the way around it. They were calm and interested and continued to respond to the input from their keepers. At one point Zula reached under the trailer to investigate. In a normal tone of voice Kathi asked Zula not to mess with anything under the trailer. Zula removed her trunk and proceeded to investigate other areas of the trailer. Both elephants were interested in the trailer and did not show any signs of fear or concern. In fact, they seemed pleased to have access to something more their size!

Ending on a very positive note, Barbara, John, Kathi, Tange and Zula concluded the introduction with treats and praise and headed off to the barn.

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January 2, 2004
6:00 p.m. cst

Angie Lambert arrived at the Sanctuary to pick up the elephant trailer for delivery to Chehaw Wild Animal Park in Georgia. Angie's first experience with an elephant transport was this past August when she offered to help move Tina from Canada. Since that time Angie moved Delhi and is now preparing to move Tange and Zula.