In Memory of Jenny
1969 ~ October 17, 2006

October 17, 2006

After months of continual personal care and non-stop supplemental feedings, our dear Jenny has passed away.

Over the past two years countless tests were conducted in an attempt to determine what was causing Jenny to lose weight. At first it appeared that perhaps she was experiencing difficulty shedding a set of teeth, causing her mouth to be sore. Veterinary prescribed treatment was given and Jenny's eating habits and food intake returned to normal but she continued to lose weight.

Hand feedings, every two hours, were implemented to ensure that Jenny was eating the volume of food necessary to gain back the weight she had lost. Jenny savored the bounty of food provided as well as the added attention that came with this new regime; she was the center of attention as all of the other elephants gathered around to see what tidbits they could beg during Jenny's supplemental feedings. Needless to say, Tarra got more than a fair share of extra groceries resulting in the weight gain that we had hoped for Jenny.

Even though Jenny's weight loss was very slow, the effect, after two years, was dramatic. The illness that eventually claimed Jenny's life continued to go undiagnosed. All known tests were conducted with inconclusive results. Jenny's occasional discomfort was addressed to ensure she remained pain free. Over the past three months Jenny grew weaker but she refused to curtail her endless exploration of the expanded habitat. With Mama Shirley at her side, Jenny led her family over every hill and through every pasture, savoring the sights, sounds, and smell of the world she so loved; this was Jenny's sanctuary and she immersed herself in it from the very day that she arrived until the moment of her death.

Last week Jenny could no longer engage in her normal foraging and migrating activity. She chose a beautiful forested wash area to lie down and rest until her time came to leave this world. Shirley, the closest thing to a mother that Jenny had known, stood protectively at Jenny's side, day and night, helping her to rise when Jenny shifted her weight to lie on her other side. Flanked by Bunny and Tarra, they all seemed to know a serious change was occurring. On the day before her passing, Jenny engaged her sisters in the most profound chorus of rumbling as Carol and Scott stood witness and caressed Jenny, allowing the vibrations to penetrate our very souls. Everyone had accepted that Jenny was leaving and it was obvious that this group song was an important part of Jenny's dying process, a process that excluded no one and drew her loved ones to a most intimate space with her. The joy-filled singing lasted for three hours. With each exhalation came a most relaxed and familiar rumble which drew Jenny's family deeper and deeper into the ritual, with Bunny adding a crescendo trumpet and Tarra chirping her excitement. Still, Jenny did not pass but spent yet another blissful night with her family near by, caregivers included.

On Tuesday morning Jenny's breathing became labored, but at no time did she exhibit the struggle one might expect from a dying individual. Jenny was relaxed in her process, and when she appeared to be a little uncomfortable her caregivers offered homeopathic remedies which allowed her to relax deeper into her process. Once her death was accepted as imminent, every effort was made to assist dear Jenny to move naturally and peacefully towards the other side, neither hurrying the process, nor impeding it. Jenny made her transition beautifully. In a blessing to herself and her family, her final days, hours and minutes were filled with joy and love, and her passing was in the arms of all who loved her so dearly.

In honor of Jenny we will play to our hearts content, sing unabashed to the open skies and live each day with a joy that Jenny taught us. We will not focus on sorrow, only thankfulness for the gift of having known Jenny.


Jenny and Shirley