Ronnie was wild-born in Asia in 1966. Like so many other circus elephants, she was captured at a young age, separated from her family, and shipped to America for training and performing in the circus.
Little is known about her early years, but records indicate in 1975, at the age of nine, Ronnie was purchased by the Hawthorn Corporation, a company that trained and leased elephants to circuses. Ronnie spent the next three decades performing. When not performing, Ronnie and the other Hawthorn elephants would be housed in a dark barn, chained in place for much of the day. In 1993, Ronnie gave birth to a male calf named Nicholas who also performed in Hawthorn circuses. As a result of USDA prosecutions against the Hawthorn Corporation for violations of the Animal Welfare Act involving inadequate care and mistreatment of its elephants, Ronnie was transferred to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee in 2006.
On February 7, 2006, Ronnie became the 20th resident of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, traveling with her best friend, Debbie. They were the fifth and sixth of eight circus elephants to travel from Illinois to Tennessee in 2006. Lottie, Minnie, Queenie, and Liz preceded them in arrival. Billie and Frieda followed on February 9, 2006. Nicholas was transferred to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in California, along with Gypsy, in the spring of 2007.
Ronnie and Debbie are constant companions. They explore their habitat daily, Ronnie often seeming to take the lead. They spend a lot of time in the woods that border the Quarantine Habitat’s meadows.
Ronnie is easily recognized by her relatively short stature (compared to companions Debbie and Minnie) and prominent forehead. Ronnie is very food-motivated, she often appears animated and seems to enjoy playing in the ponds, mud-wallows, and exploring new areas of the habitat. In fall of 2015, after years of regularly scheduled “play-dates” with Minnie, the three elephants chose to start spending all of their time together. They are a very vocal group, their excited trumpets and rumbles can be heard throughout the habitat. After Liz’s passing in 2015, Ronnie was observed reaching out to Billie, touching Billie with her trunk. These behaviors and others lead Sanctuary Staff to remark that Ronnie is often referred to as the "tie that binds" her herd together.