October 10, 2010
Lottie left us very suddenly the morning of October 10. During the routine morning feed, she was discovered lying under a large cedar tree, hidden behind some brush, with no signs of life. This came as a tremendous shock, as Lottie had appeared to be fine, with no indication of failing health; her energy and appetite had been normal.
It was clear, based on Lottie's abnormal position and no evidence of struggle or distress, that she had passed away very quickly—as if she suddenly collapsed and passed in an instant. In the absence of any answers, we managed to find some solace in the final expression on Lottie's face; there was a peace beyond words.
A necropsy was conducted on October 12, but the initial exam did not offer us anything immediately conclusive. It may be many months before pathologists are able to analyze the lab reports and deliver their findings.
For us, Lottie's legacy will never be forgotten. A soft, quiet 'mother figure' and peacemaker who seemed to have a calming, neutral influence on the Divas—especially Minnie. With long, lovely eyelashes and gentle eyes, we know Lottie, in spirit, continues to watch over the Sanctuary and her sisters.
Namaste, sweet girl.
Birth status: wild born
As with so many other circus elephants, Lottie was captured from the wild at a young age, separated from her family herd and shipped to America to spend her life performing in circuses. Little is known about Lottie's early years, but records indicate in 1995 at the age of thirty, she was sold to the Hawthorn Corporation by California-based Circus Vargas, along with Minnie, Gypsy and Sue.
As a result of USDA prosecutions against the Hawthorn Corporation for violations of the Animal Welfare Act for inadequate care and mistreatment of its elephants, Lottie was sent to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.
At 12:00 pm, on January 31, 2006, Lottie became the sixteenth resident of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee arriving with her best friend Minnie. She was the second of eight circus elephants from the Hawthorn Corporation to make the 'Caravan to Freedom' trip.
In their first weeks and months at the Sanctuary, Lottie became the self-appointed leader of her former circus herd (dubbed the 'Divas') and was instrumental in greeting and helping the later arrivals to adjust to their new freedom and surroundings. Lottie is typically very calm and serious, and spent most of her time with her best friend Minnie. In the beginning, it was not unusual for Lottie to slip off to an unexplored area of the habitat and bellow for her family to come join her. Of course, they would immediately respond to her request!
Caregivers noted that over time Lottie became less serious and more playful, sometimes heading off to entertain herself with carefree abandonment in the wooded areas or the creek. As the Divas continued to adjust to their new life, Lottie's calm, relaxed nature made her a guiding force for her herd.