January 26, 2012

Happy Anniversary Sissy!

 
Sissy arrived at The Elephant Sanctuary from the El Paso Zoo on January 26, 2000. Like many of our elephants, Sissy had a difficult life before she found Sanctuary here in Tennessee.  Raised from a young baby elephant at the Frank Buck Zoo in Gainesville, Sissy astounded the community when, following the 1981 Flood,  she was spotted trapped between trees, with only her trunk stretched up and visible above the flood waters.  It took 24 hours before the flood waters receded enough for her to free herself.  The terrible incident caused Sissy to be terrified of water and also caused paralysis in her trunk.
 
After Sissy left Gainesville, where she was a loved and adored icon of the community, she was transferred to first the Houston Zoo, and then to the El Paso Zoo in Texas. A videotaping of Sissy’s harsh treatment at the hands of her keepers at the El Paso Zoo led to public outcry.  Finally, on January 26, 2000 Sissy found her forever home here in Tennessee, where she has enjoyed 12 years of Sanctuary. You can read more about Sissy’s journey to Sanctuary here.
 
Sissy has been Finding Sanctuary Since January 26, 2000, and today we celebrate her life and her spirit. Sissy has shown remarkable recovery since she came to live at The Elephant Sanctuary. Upon her arrival, she carried “Tire” with her everywhere she went for a sense of security. Now closely bonded with her best friend Winkie, Sissy no longer feels the need for “Tire.” Also no longer afraid of water, she often swims in the pond with Winkie during the Summer. The freedom and unconditional support of her elephant sisters has truly allowed Sissy to grow beyond her fears.

Gainesville still remembers Sissy, whom they called Gerry II. It was there she met one of her biggest fans, Martin.
 
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
 
Dear Elephant Sanctuary,
 
Periodically I go to your website to check on Sissy.
 
You see, I’m nearly 50, and I’ve known Sissy most of her life.
 
I am from Gainesville, Texas.  When I was a very small child, my mom read an article in the newspaper about the community collecting money to buy a new elephant for the local zoo.  She made a donation in my brother and also in my name.  When Sissy first came to the zoo, she was still bottle fed. I remember the zoo keeper letting us come inside the pen and watch her being fed.
 
Throughout my childhood, I can remember going to the zoo hundreds of times.  In those days, you could feed the animals.  For a child to get to feed a grown elephant was the highlight of a trip to the zoo.
 
When Sissy survived the flood, the whole town celebrated.
 
My last visit to see Sissy was when I took my daughter to the zoo to see Sissy.  Two generations of loving Sissy, and low and behold, the zoo keeper let us go into the pen and pat Sissy.
 
It broke my heart to hear about all the ill treatment that she had to go through after she left Gainesville.  However, to know that she is now with a family of elephants is truly a blessing for me.  I thank you for all you are doing for her, and since it is winter, and she is in the barn, tell her that a friend from her childhood is still thinking of her.
 
They say an elephant never forgets.  It gives me comfort to know, that maybe, just maybe she remembers me too.
 
Friend of Sissy,
Martin

 


Sissy and her best friend, Winkie