The Story of Tina's Shoes

Tina's a Happy Girl

When Teva learned that Tina needed shoes to protect her ailing feet, they immediately offered to create a customized pair. Their expertise and connections in the shoe industry meant Tina's shoes would be constructed of the best and most functional materials available. Teva needed a model of Tina's front feet from which they could design a pair of shoes that would cushion and protect her sore feet. From start to finish, creating the shoes took nearly four months.

To make the models we contacted Marcella Smith, a sculptor who oversaw the entire process. She informed us that first we would need to make a cast of Tina's feet, from which she would make a mold and then the model. Although it sounded complicated, Marcella made the job easy. She gathered together all of the materials necessary to make these mammoth casts, molds, and models and instructed the caregivers step-by-step on what to do and how. Tina was amazing. She stood virtually motionless for the casting process, which took nearly two hours.

Slide show : The casts are created

Once the casts were complete, Tina's work was done. Marcella transported the precious cargo back to her studio in Overland Park, Kansas to start on the next phase of the project. The multi-step process included pouring rubberized cement into the molds which would become what is known to scuptors as a model. These models were an exact replica of Tina's feet and were required in order for Teva to create a shoe that would fit properly.

Marcella finished her part of the project and painstakingly packed the models for shipping to Teva who would spend endless hours designing and creating these one-of-a-kind shoes. Teva enlisted the help of colleges, the best in their field for the different components of the shoe. Brock USA of Boulder, Colorado provided a dense foam for the insole which would act as a cushion to protect Tina's sore feet. Vibram USA of Concord, Massachusetts created the pliable sole which would protect Tina's feet from the rough terrain she would walk on, DUCKSAN CO., LTD.of Seoul, Korea provided the breathable material used for the body of the shoe, and Ancra International of Hawthorne, California provided buckles that would ensure Tina's shoes stayed snuggly strapped to her feet. All of these companies went out of their way to help an elephant that had suffered from osteomyelitis for so many years that her prognosis of survival was slim. They donated their design, products, and services to try to give Tina some quality of life. Everyone wanted Tina to experience the wide-open spaces of her Sanctuary home.

Slide show : The shoes are made.

Sadly Tina passed away days before the shoes were completed. Even though Teva had created these custom-made shoes in record time, it was too late for Tina. In an effort to make sure that other needy elephants would benefit, Teva finished the pair of elephant shoes in Tina's memory. Tarra did the honors of testing the shoes for fit and effectiveness. After only a few minor changes were made to ensure that these shoes were both comfortable and functional, Teva did something remarkable. Not only did they make the recommended changes to the test pair of shoes, but they created seven more pairs as well, stating that they wanted to make sure other needy elephants would benefit from the shoes.

Slide show : Tarra tests the shoes.

The Sanctuary is eternally grateful to Teva, Brock USA, Vibram, DUCKSAN CO., LTD,. and Ancra International for their compassionate response to a unique and desperate need.

Barbara and Tina (in her shoes) as ele-angels

"Barbara Welcomes Tina"
by Bee Bassage of BC, Canada.