In Memory of Joanna Burke
April 21, 2007:
months have passed and still we are not
fully able to grasp the reality of Joanna’s
passing. It is not denial that we are experiencing;
we all fully understand that Joanna is
no longer alive, but her spirit is so strong;
it is as if only her physical form has
left this planet. In the book, How
To Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies,
the author states that when a person you
love dies you don’t lose that person
from your life, you simply have to learn
how to relate to them in a different way.
Joanna’s spiritual presence is felt
and touches us deeply, creating the opportunity
for each of us to develop a new relationship
a Donation in Joanna's Memory
Joanna's parents asked
that all donations for Joanna be sent to The Elephant Sanctuary.
Joanna the Caregiver
Joanna started as an intern
at the Sanctuary in August 1998. One day during
her internship, Joanna woke up from a dream.
She was reminded of a trip she'd
taken to the Nashville Zoo about
three years prior, long before she
ever thought of a career serving
animals. The dream reminded her of
watching an elephant being bathed
at the zoo and how awe-inspiring
the elephant was to watch. Something
about the dream prompted her to engage in
a midnight hunt through the photos
she had taken while visiting the
zoo. To her surprise, the photograph
she was searching for was of Scott
and Carol bathing Tarra at the Nashville
Zoo—their last stop before creating
the Elephant Sanctuary.
Joanna is a native New Englander who originally
came to the South to teach in the Appalachian
Mountains. She later moved to Nashville to
begin a graduate program in organizational
psychology. Near the end of the program, she
realized she felt no passion for the subject—her heart was with animals.
So she left school and started to investigate ways to gain experience in the
field. Joanna applied for an internship at the Sanctuary. She was accepted
and rewarded with an opportunity to do something she wanted at a place that
needed a person like her to do it.
When asked what a lead caregiver does, Joanna's answer was, "Anything
at a moment’s notice and then some." Her responsibilities included
the daily care of elephants and supervision of fellow caregivers and volunteers.
During her time at the Sanctuary Joanna not only cared for elephants on a daily
basis, she also coordinated the intern program that brought her to the Sanctuary
in the first place.
For Joanna, what had become the most rewarding aspect of being at the Sanctuary
was observing the elephants building relationships with one another, healing
and becoming whole. Being at the Sanctuary to observe that process and
helping to create an environment that supports it were by far the best parts
of the job. She said on many occasions, "Working in a place where
the philosophy is so progressive, where things are always growing and never
stagnant has been great for me in my own growth as a person and a caregiver."