Lota & Misty's Diary

August 20, 2006
Misty is now part of the Asian herd—please follow updates on Misty in the Ele_Diary.

August 18, 2006
Misty's trailer arrived at 9:00 a.m. Within an hour she had walked into the trailer and was ready to be transported to the other side of the Sanctuary property. After a short ten minute drive, Misty enthusiastically walked out of the trailer and headed over to her old friend Delhi. The reunion was beautiful to behold. Delhi stood perfectly still as Misty approached. Misty assumed a submissive posture which put Delhi at ease. Delhi proceeded to check out her old friend and Misty joined her in the affectionate touches. Their interactions were sweet and gentle; old friends reunited.

Misty and Delhi reuinted

 August 17, 2006
Today Misty was released from the quarantine yard, her home for a year and a half, to make the journey to the new Asian barn. Since this area is not accessible by elecam, her journey was not broadcast. Our hope was that Misty would make the move on foot; what a joy that would be. The route was predetermined and Misty was very cooperative. The gate to her yard was opened and she came right out and walked with her caregivers down the road, across the creek, and up to the hill that would pose the only challenge on her journey. Try as she might, Misty could not scale the hill. It is steep, but we had hoped her excitement of being out would provide the energy she would need for the short climb. Misty made two attempts and then it was clear she was not able to climb the hill. So we turned around and headed back to her yard. Misty had a blast on the walk back, she crashed through the trees, took a dip in the creek, discovered china grass which is every elephant's favorite, and finally made her way back into her yard. Now we go to plan B.  Our elephant trailer will be moved to Misty's yard tomorrow. As soon as she loads, we will drive her to the other side of the property and introduce her to her new and permanent home. Delhi will be there to greet her; what a reunion that will be!

 Watch Slide Show

Back to top

August 15, 2006
This afternoon the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency responded to the Sanctuary's request to allow Misty to join the original herd of Asian elephants in the expanded habitat. TWRA consulted with experts and responded favorably to our request. Misty will be allowed to move out of quarantine and into the 2200-acre habitat with Delhi her old friend, and Jenny, Tarra, Shirley, Bunny, Sissy and Winkie, her soon-to-be new friends.

August 14, 2006
Misty is patiently awaiting her release from quarantine. TWRA is the agency that makes the determination as to where Misty will be allowed to move. Once the decision has been made we will post it on our site.

June 9 , 2006
Misty has less than 2 months left of her year-long TB treatment and everyone is getting excited about her release. Even though we know her confinement will not last much longer, we continue to strive for ways to relieve her boredom. Today we gave Misty access to an expanded yard. This area is not utilized by other elephants and is adjacent to her existing yard. This area is heavily forested, offering shade and adventure, both of which Misty responds well to. Today she explored, crashed through the undergrowth, leveled small trees and generally had a blast.

 Watch Slide Show

May 18, 2006


Today Misty was put on a third tuberculosis drug. This drug, Rifampin, is in addition to the two drugs that Misty has already been on and will continue to be on until August 8th. The Rifampin will cost $800 per month, nearly twice as much as the two other drugs combined; but it is a small price to pay for her health. Misty has been the model of a perfect patient for her entire treatment; she has not missed one day of her year long treatment. Her caregivers conscientious approach to Misty's care has made the process as pain free as possible. Misty still enters her restraint chute voluntarily and stands calmly as her drugs are administered. After treatment, Misty engages in the congratulatory celebration which reinforces that we are a team and appreciate her unfaltering cooperation. This new third drug is required for eight weeks, at which point it will be discontinued, leaving Misty with the original two drugs for the remainder of her treatment. We plan to enjoy the summer, but look forward to August 8th when Misty will be free; free of drug treatment, free of her quarantine confinement, and free to join her sisters in the "big yard".

Back to top

March 3, 2006

Misty is more than half way through her TB treatment and she is doing great. She continues to be playful and very interactive with her caregivers. After each treatment Misty enjoys an energetic romp from her barn to the yard with caregivers in tow. She has been the most cooperative patient!

November 30, 2005

With the cold weather upon us the elephants cuticles tend to dry out. Castor oil is the prefect lubricant and all of the elephants love it. Today Misty enjoyed the special treatment of having her cuticles “painted” with castor oil; she loves being pampered!

 Animated Gif

 November 17, 2005
One year ago today a miracle occurred; this is the day Lota brought Misty to the Sanctuary. After nearly ten years of public outcry for her release, Lota finally made her way to the Sanctuary—but she did not make the journey alone; she brought one of her sisters along. Although Lota and Misty had not spent much time together prior to contracting tuberculosis, for the previous 12 months they spent every moment together, sequestered in an outbuilding, separated from the rest of the herd. Their medical condition had brought them together; their need for companionship nurtured a relationship that was closer than any you or I can imagine. They were emotionally bonded to one another. Lota, frail and underweight, showed no weakness; she was in charge and she let Misty, the heavyweight, know it at every opportunity. Misty loved the arrangement, pretending to cower to Lota’s show of dominance. Lota was a very proud individual—a leader, born for greatness, not the debilitating disease which destroyed her body and robbed her of a future. These two sacred souls were inseparable, kind and compassionate friends who shared every waking moment and sleeping hour side by side.

When Lota passed away Misty was bewildered, deeply affected by the loss of her dear friend. Lota had given Misty the greatest gift possible; she gave her sanctuary.

Slowly Misty recovered as much as anyone does after such a great loss. Although not a substitute, Misty finds solace in her doting caregivers who agree with Misty that she is the center of the universe. Today we celebrate a monumental journey of two amazing individuals whose paths crossed for a time. Lota has passed on but there is every indication that an essence of her energy remains, strong and proud, watching over those that love her so.

 Watch Slide Show

October 3, 2005
When Misty arrived, her nails and pads were severely overgrown. After trimming away the inches of overgrown nails we found that one of her front nails had a small split and separation of the cuticle from the nail. Over the past several months this nail continued to erupt through the face of the nail at the cuticle. This is a common indicator of osteomyelitis or at least, a precursor to the foot disease. Misty has received daily foot soaks since her arrival and regular trimming. We have seen a pattern and it causes us concern. To better monitor the condition we took x-rays of the nail. Although we feared the worst, the x-rays show no sign of osteomyelitis. Regardless we will continue to monitor her nail and x-ray it regularly. Of course Misty was a complete angel for the x-rays. She could not have been more cooperative, appearing to rather enjoy the entire process. The staff was very pleased with the results.

 Watch Slide Show

September 14 , 2005

Misty continues to be in high spirits. Today EleCam viewers watched as she gave herself a vigorous sand shower.

Misty has a sand shower.

August 27, 2005

Misty has settled into her treatment regiment quite well. She is incredibly cooperative, which makes her caretaker’s job easier than expected. One of our big concerns was that the drugs might make Misty sick—which seemed to be the case in the first week of meds. But now she seems to be back to her old, playful self! Today Misty had a blast crashing through her suspended toys and kicking her “foot” ball around. She trumpeted and squealed, and when she was finally tired she settled into a deep, vibrating rumble.

 Watch Slide Show

August 11 , 2005
Misty continues to be cooperative and cheery even though she is being treated for TB. Her attitude is good. In the heat of the day she seeks shelter under the trees but cannot resist greeting caregivers along her fence line whenever one walks by. She continues to solicit the attention and affection of her caregivers who admittedly are smitten by her. We are all pleased to see Misty’s progress.

 Watch Slide Show

July 9 , 2005

The weather is great and so are the toys. Misty received another gift today, a new elephant proof ball, she loves it!

 Watch Slide Show

July 3 , 2005

For the past several months caregivers have been conditioning Misty to receive her TB drugs. She is definitely a quick study, always willing to participate in the process. Incredibly enough Misty has never shown any resistance to the procedures which has helped to make a difficult situation a little easier. The entire process was accomplished through Passive Control, a non-dominance-based system of training which relies on mutual respect and positive reinforcement. 

 Watch Slide Show

May 21, 2005

Scott, Lydia, and Barbara provided several new toys for Misty's enjoyment. Did she approve? See the slide show!

 Watch Slide Show

April 22 , 2005

Many well wishers have been asking when Misty will be released from quarantine; the truth is that we don’t know for sure. Since Misty tested positive for TB in 2001 she must undergo treatment for the disease. Under the supervision of a team of veterinarians Misty is awaiting treatment. The situation is complicated by the fact that although she tested positive one time, four years ago, she has never tested positive again. In order to determine the appropriate course of treatment her veterinarians were waiting for a positive test result so that they could determine what drugs her particular strain of the TB was sensitive to. Although not one of Misty’s tests has come back positive, one of Lota’s did. The decision was made to treat Misty according to the sensitivity of Lota’s strain of TB. The good news is that Lota’s TB was not drug resistant. It can be assumed that Misty is also not drug resistant. Misty’s medical treatment is scheduled to begin next month and will continue for nearly one full year. If she responds well to her treatment and remains TB culture negative, she very well may be able to be released from quarantine in the fall. We are thankful that Misty is content in her current situation. Just imagine her surprise when her quarantine is lifted and she is given access to the habitat…what a day that will be!

Back to top

 April 8, 2005

The Sanctuary is really greening up and Misty is enjoying every moment of the spring weather. She loves her suspended tire toy.

April 4 , 2005

Today was warm, perfect for sharing a shower with a friend. Misty has proven to be a kind and loving individual. She has abandoned her aggressive reputation for a new, gentler one. It is hard to imagine her as anything but soft and cooperative. Not once has Misty shown any sign of aggression with her caregivers; of course, why would she? Playful and engaging, Misty enjoys all of the attention she is given. She especially enjoys the freedom to do what comes naturally. Today that means taking a shower with a friend.

 Watch Slide Show

One of Misty's favorite toys ~

Misty plays with a toy

April 3 , 2005
Misty continues to amaze us with her spirit. Today she was surprised with a pair of balloons, an adventure that lasted a full ten minutes. With little encouragement Misty dashed out after the floating targets, grabbing and kicking at them. One balloon was secured to a high branch in the tree, the other playfully wrapped around the end of her tail. She burst into abandoned play, swinging her tail and trunk, spinning and chirping, plummeting the balloon on her tail while grabbing at the one tethered in the tree. In no time Misty broke the string of the balloon in the tree and to her dismay it floated away. She then turned her attention to the other balloon that was now tied to a fallen tree limb, bobbing in the breeze. She charged it, squealing with delight. With fierce intent Misty grabbed, swatted and finally unintentionally set the second balloon free as well. As the balloon slowly floated up and away into the sky Misty stood perfectly still, her eyes fixed on the departing entertainment. She watched intensely as the balloon disappeared out of sight.

 Watch Slide Show

Back to top

March 21, 2005

Misty keeps herself entertained with the Amazing Graze feeder toy.

Misty and Amazing Graze toy

Back to top

March 17 , 2005

Misty continues to do well following Lota's passing. Her caregivers make every effort to ensure that she has things to do to distract from the isolation of quarantine; quite a challenge with such an energetic and social individual as Misty. Today was sunny and warm and Misty engaged in play behavior for some time. She is strong and agile, which is saying a lot for her an animal of her size—10,300 pounds. She played kick-ball and tether-ball and as a break between ball games she wallowed in the mud.

 Watch Slide Show

Back to top

March 16 , 2005

Lota was laid to rest on February 10, 2005 in the front pasture which overlooks the entire Sanctuary valley. Her memorial service was held today at 1:00 p.m. The service began with the lighting of the ceremonial fire followed by planting flowering bulbs on and around her grave. Stephen Skinner, a ceremonial fire maker, kindly agreed to create Lota’s ceremonial fire bringing the sacred spirit of fire to the service. In keeping with the ancient Huichol tradition, offerings of tobacco, chocolate, copal and wood were made to the fire in honor of Lota’s life and death.

The fire making process is stepped in ritual which seemed very appropriate for Lota’s service considering the ancient and ritualistic culture of her species. The tools used to create the fire are treated with reverence, made from hand worked pieces of wood. With skill and patience the fire maker turned the spindle in a carved notch in the fireboard, creating dust. Using the bow drill made of locust he was able to create a heat of 800 degrees F, which ignited the dust into a tiny hot coal. He then placed the coal into what is called a tinder bundle made from the inner bark of the tulip poplar tree, lined with milkweed down and cracked cap polypore; all unprocessed materials found in nature. With the tiny hot coal tucked in the center of the tinder bundle the fire maker gently blew onto the bundle until it burst into flames. The fiery bundle was then placed inside the teepee fire which had been prepared. Made of orchard grass, pine needles and stacked twigs and sticks, this fire gets its name from its teepee shape. The ceremonial fire burnt strong for over an hour. When the coals cooled they were spread over Lota’s grave.

The service was aired live on our EleCam to allow all who knew and loved Lota to pay their final respects. Many supporters sent cards and flowering bulbs to be planted around Lota’s grave. The ceremony was beautiful, attended by thousands from around the globe. So many people tried to view the ceremony on line and watch Lota’s memorial video that not everyone was able to view; we had an over-load capacity.

Lota's Memorial


 Watch Slide Show

Back to top

March 13 , 2005

Misty saw a performance tub for the first time since she left the Hawthorn barn three months ago but she was not expected to do tricks. The tub is used when trimming nails and pads. She immediately explored the tub and without encouragement she placed her front feet on top of the tub. Of course we anticipated that reaction since Misty is quite familiar with a tub and comfortable putting her feet up on it. She was exceedingly cooperative as caregivers trimmed her nails and treated her. Her nails are still recovering but they are looking much better already.

 Watch Slide Show

March 11 , 2005

The days are warm and Misty is doing well. She is playful and engaging, ever ready to participate in a game of chase around the yard if her caregivers will humor her. She is acutely attentive to everything happening in and around her yard. Thank goodness she finds these activities distracting, while she is stuck in quarantine; it gives her something to do. The 4-wheeler has become one of her favorite toys. Although it does not come into her yard, it is driven up and down the road many times each day. Caregivers encourage Misty to run and play and she is more than happy to oblige with trumpets blaring! The yard that used to be lush pasture grass is all torn up; Misty plays rough, she is tough on the turf. Although we would prefer to see her area rich in pasture, the top priority is to keep her active and engaged, so the turf will just have to be torn up for now.

Back to top

March 2 , 2005

Misty is enjoying herself on these warm sunny days. She spends a lot of her time at the far end of the yard watching the staff go about their work. No one can resist talking to Misty as they walk by; she has a way of getting you to spend time with her!


February 20, 2005

Misty continues to recover from the loss of her dear friend Lota. We know she misses Lota but luckily she has almost completely returned to her former routine of napping, eating, exploring the yard, playing with caregivers and napping again. During the long evenings when Lota is not there to interact with, Misty has her new toy to play with. Don’t think for a moment the toy can ever replace Lota—it cannot, but it can be a source of distraction and our way of letting Misty know that we know she needs more. We are working towards a solution to her isolation.

February 17, 2005

Misty is doing well. She finds solitary life a bit boring but is gracefully learning how to cope. We notice that she has been focusing on activities outside of her yard. Today she became quite excited when the dogs ran down to the creek in a playful barking frenzy. Her eyes lit up and she trotted off in the same direction. Of course she is penned in so she had to watch the dogs from afar. How we would love to be able to cut Misty loose; she would have so much fun but that simply is not possible…yet. The weather has been awesome, several days in high 60’s and 70’s. Misty has even gotten back into her napping routine. We do not know if or when we will be able to get a room mate for her but we are looking at all the options.

Back to top

February 13, 2005

Misty is doing well. Everyone is trying to make sure that she receives extra attention in the wake of Lota’s death. At first Misty appeared to be a bit confused. She searched for Lota in the barn and yard and appeared depressed. A time for grieving is healthy so we do not want to prevent Misty from going through the process, but we do want to support her in this painful time.

Lota’s necropsy was completed Thursday afternoon under the expert guidance of a USDA pathologist and three experienced veterinarians. Initial findings were no surprise; Lota had an advanced case of tuberculosis. Final test results will be available in a few weeks.

By Friday afternoon Misty was once again engaging in play behavior and talking to her caregivers as she freely does. Projects planned for the quarantine yard took precedence now because doing projects in Misty’s proximity helped to distract and engage her. She had her first introduction, head light to eyeball, to the backhoe. Of course she wanted to see if she could push it over. With an encouraging word from her caregivers Misty decided to leave that challenge for a later date. Once Misty started playing she immediately started feeling better; funny how those endorphins work.  

On Saturday there were more maintenance projects scheduled for the quarantine yard and several visits from all of Misty’s caregivers. Her upbeat attitude and animation demonstrated that Misty knew it was going to be alright. There is no doubt that Misty will mourn the loss of her dear friend Lota for some time to come but fortunately she knows that she is loved by people who are sensitive to her physically and emotionally needs.

Over the next few weeks we will attempt to respond to all the many questions that you have about Lota, her passing and how Misty is doing.

 Watch Slide Show

February 12, 2005

Misty has continued to show a healthy progress following Lota’s death. Although there are times when she quietly stands and stares into the distance, more often she is engaged in some activity. Today Delhi’s suspended string of toys was reinstalled in the quarantine barn; behavioral enrichment to help ward off boredom. Everyone was pleased to see that Misty got as much enjoyment out of it as Delhi used to.

 Watch Slide Show

February 11, 2005

Misty is subdued; one might even say that she is sad. Caregivers have been spending time with her through the days and evenings since Lota passed away. This afternoon Scott shared some quality time with his dear friend.

Scott comforts Misty

Back to top

February 9, 2005

For anyone reading this diary entry, please protect your heart as you read this very sad news.

Early this morning our beloved Lota passed away. At 3:00 a.m. Carol was with Lota giving her some medication and a ten minute dose of oxygen. There was no obvious change in Lota's condition to indicate that she would die shortly. In our culture death is equated with pain, but with Lota that was simply not the case.

After her treatments Lota leaned her magnificent head against the front of the corral as Misty nestled in beside her. They both appeared quite comfortable and Lota started to drift off to sleep, a standing sleep that we call a cat nap. A short time after Carol left, Lota lay down for the final time. Misty silently stood over her dear friend, where she remained until staff came to move Lota to her gravesite.

No amount of preparation can make such a loss bearable. Misty and all of the staff are struggling with the need to be happy for Lota; she is finally free. After years of suffering from TB, Lota deserves peace. We had all hoped that peace would come in the form of recovery and a long life at the Sanctuary. Sadly, her condition was too advanced to allow that dream to come true.

Under the constant watch of her caregivers Lota never showed signs of stress beyond her labored breathing. She accepted the oxygen without resistance and draped her trunk against her caregivers in a gentle caress as the oral medications were given. She left this life with the same grace and dignity that she lived it. There is no doubt that Lota has had a profound impact on thousands of people by bringing an awareness to the plight of captive elephants that only she could.

Lota has earned a special place in the next world and unquestionably in the history books of mankind.

Misty napped while Lota stood over her

Misty is going to need all of the positive thoughts everyone can spare. She is strong and healthy but a marshmallow when it came to Lota; she adored her.

Misty after Lota passed away
Misty after Lota passed away

Back to top

February 8, 2005

Lota’s health has been failing since January 25, when she had trouble rising after her nap. What was immediately obvious was how labored her breathing had become. The scar tissue in Lota’s lungs, caused by her advanced case of TB, has reduced her lung capacity, making it increasingly difficult for her to breathe. Sadly, this scar tissue is irreversible.

Over the past two weeks Lota has shown little interest in venturing out into her yard during the day. Since having difficulty getting up she has not lain down. Caregivers have been monitoring her food and water intake as well as behavioral changes, paying close attention to any signs of discomfort. Aside from her labored breathing, Lota appears calm and content. Over the past week her appetite has diminished. Yesterday she stopped eating but still shows no sign of pain or stress.

Dr. Scott was out to see Lota twice today and agrees that she is remarkably calm and appears pain free but he prescribed a painkiller to ensure that she remain comfortable. We are also giving her oxygen every hour for about 10 minutes; she seems to like it. She voluntarily rests her trunk inside the plastic container and breathes the oxygen. As far as doing something drastic to prolong Lota’s life and try to prevent her from dying, we could hook her up to life support in an attempt to slow the dying process but Lota’s health has been unstable for years. We have always known that she would not live long. Our goal was that she has an opportunity for freedom before passing. Forcing her to live on machines would not provide the quality of life she deserves. What she deserves is to be pampered.

Every effort is being made to keep Lota comfortable and pain free as she makes her transition. We do not know if she will pass quickly or surprise us by starting to eat again. Even though deep inside we have always known that Lota’s condition is terminal, we find ourselves wishing that she could recover.

Misty is doing well, staying close to Lota, reluctant to leave her side. Lota and Misty are very close and we are watching to make sure that Misty does not become stressed during this difficult time.

 Watch Slide Show

Back to top

February 4, 2005

The sun was out today and all of the elephants took advantage of it. Misty was basking in the sun when her caregivers approached to trim her nails. This is not the usual body position for trimming, but Misty is quite comfortable being approached and fussed over while she is lying down, so caregivers thought she might allow her feet to be trimmed in this position - and she did. Misty is a most amazing individual. She is incredibly trusting and trust worthy. It was obvious that she was apprehensive to allow her nails to be filed, but not once did she try to get up. Of course if she had wanted to get up no one would have stopped her. She wiggled and moved her feet around and then would stay still for several seconds. The first session was a great success, the next will be better. We employ Passive Control in the care of our elephants. This non-dominant management enlists the elephants cooperation with all procedures, instead of forcing them to comply. The patience we show in the beginning always pays off in the long run. When Misty showed she did want to get up, her caregivers praised her and gave her treats. She spent the next 15 minutes playing, talking and soliciting the interaction of her caregivers. Misty is awesome!

When Misty arrived her pads and nails were severely overgrown. Of course her feet had been trimmed in the past but the length of her nails indicated that months had passed since her last pedicure. Her reaction indicated that her past experience with foot trims was not pleasurable. We often see this with elephants that come from a human dominance management program. The elephant is not given a choice, instead they must do as they are told even if the procedure is frightening or painful. When an elephant experiences fear and pain they safeguard themselves against another such experience, it is simply a survival tactic. A skilled trainer will not push an elephant into a painful or frightening situation, recognizing that an elephant's trust is a valuable asset. Unfortunately, there are unskilled people in every occupation including elephant care and training. Unknowingly, as result of their lack of skill and sensitivity, these trainers actually create uncooperative behavior in the elephants in their care.      

 Watch Slide Show

Back to top

Febuary 1, 2005

Another trunk wash session. Misty is consistently cooperative.

 Watch Slide Show

January 28, 2005

It was heartwarming to watch Lota today, fully engaged in her bout of play with Misty.

Misty has to be the silliest elephant on the planet; she is quick to talk and even quicker to play. Today she decided to climb over a low row of timbers in her yard. At one time these timbers were part of a retaining wall; now they are an elephant toy. Once Misty lumbered over the timbers she lowered herself down by the wall, next to a shallow depression she had created by her antics. With her body awkwardly sprawled on the uneven ground, head first on a serious slope, she plopped her head and trunk into the empty ravine. Her belly is so LARGE that when she lies down on the ground she is not flat. If her head is on the ground then her rear is tilted up and if she puts more weight on her backside and hip her head comes off the ground. Even her front legs look less than comfortable in this position because they stick straight out from her body, unable to reach the ground. Her body actually teetered back and forth from head to tail and back again, wobbling back and forth. When she is in complete balance the only part of her body that is actually touching the ground is the very center of her belly. What a sight.

Lota was up for some fun, so she began to push on Misty with her head and trunk. Lota pushed, knelt down, even climbed over a section of the timbers to get into a better position to push on Misty.  This activity engaged them both for a short while until Lota decided it was time for more groceries and Misty decided that is was time to play with the camera person.

 Watch Slide Show

January 25, 2005

Today was relatively warm and sunny. Misty and Lota did what they do most everyday, they nestled into the soft grass for a nap. Caregivers noticed that today Lota did not lie down in her normal location and actually was in a position on the hill that might make it difficult for her to get up. Everyone kept on eye on her and when she awoke, caregivers were standing directly behind Lota to assist her if she needed it. Lota tried to get up once and realized she was not in the right position; her head was nearly facing down hill. With her front foot she pivoted her body around to better position herself to get up. This maneuver was done so perfectly that it appeared Lota had done this before, but the exertion took its toll. Lota’s chest heaved as she labored to breathe; her caregivers feared the worst. Lota did not struggle; she remained calm as she recovered. About 10 minutes passed while she regained her strength and her breath. When she tried to get up again there were two pairs of hands pushing her from behind, giving her the extra boost she needed to get onto her elbows. From this position it was easy for Lota to get up. It is during times like these that we cherish what we do and the bond that is forged between caregiver and elephant. Once on her feet it took Lota nearly 45 minutes to resume normal breathing and start eating again.

Lota has been very cooperative about her trunk wash conditioning. Although she is distrustful of having her trunk manipulated, she has shown interest in the process finally, reaching her trunk into the plastic bag to deposit a trunk wash sample.

Lota is conditioned for trunk washes.

Back to top

January 23, 2005

As part of Lota and Misty’s care and treatment they will receive monthly trunk washes for close to a year. The trunk washes are done in a series; three times in one week. The samples are then frozen and sent to the lab for analysis. Misty is so cooperative that several of her caregivers are able to do trunk washes with her.

Trunk Wash

Back to top

January 17, 2005

Lota and Misty get new tires.




The tires on the 4-wheeler were replaced today, resulting in new toys for both Misty and Lota. It was cute to see them claim one and then hover over it not willing to share. Lota shoved hers around and even covered it with hay at one point. Misty found hers to be a good size for playing in the barn, small enough to maneuver. Both Lota and Misty appear content in their new home, toys are an added plus!

January 15, 2005

On one of our coldest days this season, all of the girls are outside soaking up the sun, including Lota. What a change for her and Misty, after years of being confined to a barn for the entire winter.

 Watch Slide Show!

January 3, 2005

The weather has been glorious, enabling the elephants to spend a great deal of their time outside. Lota has finally discovered the joys of sleeping in the pasture and is taking advantage of the luxury daily. Today she snoozes away while her faithful friend Misty stands vigil. These two elephants are blessed to have each other—without this companionship, their time in quarantine would be very lonely.

Lota naps while Misty stands close by
Misty grazes while Lota naps

Lota rests her foot while Misty naps
Lota takes advantage of the foot rest as Misty naps

Back to top


January 2, 2005

Lota welcomes the pampering showered upon her.

Loving care for Lota

Our scale has been on back order for three months and it finally arrived today. A couple of weeks ago a loaner scale was installed but it broke immediately after Misty was weighed. Knowing that monitoring an elephant’s weight is an important tool for sound management, we have grown increasingly impatient waiting for our scale to arrive. As soon as it was installed Lota walked directly into the chute and stood on the scale. She weighed in at 6420 pounds. Considering how skinny she is we estimate that a healthy weight for her will be approximately 10,000 pounds. Yes, Lota is a big girl, or she will be as soon as she recovers!

 Watch Slide Show!

Back to top

January 1, 2005

The New Year is starting off great. Lota is growing quite comfortable, allowing her trunk to be touched. Even in the yard, Lota will approach the fence and allow her caregivers to touch the end of her nose. It may seem like such a simple thing but Lota’s negative reaction to having her trunk touched suggests an unpleasant past experienced associated with having her trunk touched. Our caregivers prefer to gain her confidence by allowing whatever time it takes for Lota to trust them. Once she fully trusts that her caregivers will not inflict pain, Lota will allow them to do trunk washes anytime, anywhere.

Lota gains confidence in her caregivers

Back to top


With an empty syringe in one hand and treats in the other, Barbara continues to condition Lota for trunk washes. Lota is particularly adverse to having her trunk touched. Although she remains calm, she will not allow her trunk to be held or manipulated. With patience and continued conditioning Lota will soon allow us to manipulate her trunk and collect trunk wash samples which are an important tool used to monitor her disease. In the meantime, fecal and urine samples have been collected and sent to the lab for analysis. We are monitoring everything possible to document what effect the TB is having on her system.

Barbara conditions Lota with treats

Back to top

December 20, 4:15pm CT
Lota lying down for the first time!

 December 17, 2004

Looking at the two of them you would never imagine what a perfectly matched pair they are but it's true. Misty may weigh two tons more than Lota but Lota is feisty and definitely stands her ground with Misty. The best part is that they are very attached to each other. When it comes to their relationship, Misty may carry the weight, but Lota is in charge.

Lota and Misty

Back to top

 December 14, 2004

Misty steps on the scale for the first time.


Misty steps onto the scale for the first time

The quarantine barn scale has been on back order for more than two months. Since weights are an important tool when monitoring a recovering elephants health, the company we are buying the scale from agreed to provide a loaner until our custom scale is ready.

Misty wasted no time stepping up onto the scale to be weighed, all 10,235 pounds of her. Then one of the load cells broke. We were pleased to get Misty's weight but the weight we really needed was Lota's. Now we are waiting not only for our new scale but a replacement part for the loaner.

Hopefully the scale will be back in working order on Monday and we can get a weight on Lota.



Back to top

December 13, 2004

Lota is putting on weight and has exhibited play behavior. As you can see, she now has a sparkle in her eye that gives us great hope; she is on the road to recovery.

Lota's getting better!

 December 10 , 2004

Lota and Misty continue to do well. Misty enjoys naps in the yard day and night. Lota appreciates the soft chair Misty becomes when sleeping. Lota hardly waits for Misty to fall asleep before she gently sits down on her. Misty stays perfectly still, undisturbed by Lota. They both continue to enjoy their freedom. For the past week we have had a lot of rain and Misty has proven to be quite agile. If she is not splashing in the water, she is running up and down the fence enticing someone to play with her. Lota stands close by until Misty gets too rambunctious, then Lota moves a distance away and watches. The other day Lota was seen playing in the water with her trunk and later presented a back foot to her caregiver in play mode. Lota is gaining weight and has more energy. Misty's stiff shoulder is no longer causing her pain or stiffness.


November 30 , 2004

Rain or shine, Misty always has a wonderful time. She is one of the most playful elephants I have ever met. Life is pure joy to her and she engages herself in anything and everything. Caregivers are continually changing out toys to keep Misty occupied. She is agile and coordinated, even while slipping and sliding in the mud she continues to play. It is not unusual to see her kicking the ball, throwing the burlap bag over her back and slinging a trunk full of mud all at the same time. Today when it rained Misty spent nearly an hour playing in the puddle. We cannot wait until she is released from quarantine so she can play in the ponds. We know she is going to be a water lover! Where was Lota all this time? She was just outside camera range, engaged her favorite pastime, eating.

Misty playing in the water

Back to top

November 28 , 2004

Misty has been so cooperative that Scott decided to examine her back while she was in the restraint chute. She has an excessive build up of dead skin which is a result of not having a thorough bath daily and access to a scratching surface. Even time out in the rain will soften dead layers of skin which will then slough off. As dead layers of skin accumulate, deep cracks form in the skin along with ingrown hairs which become infected. Now that Misty is bathed regularly, has free choice access to water, spends time out in the rain and has access to trees to scratch on, she will be able to naturally remove the dead skin and keep her skin healthy. Misty was quite patient, allowing Scott to clean away some of the dead skin.

Misty continues to make progress with her target training. She has mastered placing her trunk on top of the target, so today she was taught to accept the plastic bag over her nose. She was awesome. This training will allow caregivers to take a trunk wash sample which is required to determined her tuberculosis status.

Lota is not quite ready for trunk wash training, but caregivers are preparing her for the foot trims that she so desperately needs. She has been a little jumpy about having people close since her arrival, so her caregivers are trying to earn her trust; specifically, they are getting her used to a gentle touch. At first she would move away whenever anyone touched her, but now she has begun to lean into the hand of the person petting her. Her eyes are bright and she has been much more attentive the past few days. Even in the yard she has begun to approach caregivers as they come up to the corral.

 Watch Slide Show!

Back to top

November 22 , 2004

Lota and Misty are really settling in. Lota has taken to the food with a zeal.  She is eating non-stop. At this rate she will gain her weight back in no time. We are collecting samples for lab work to get a total picture of her health. In the meantime, we are coaxing Lota to start eating her supplements of vitamins and minerals which in some cases is an acquired taste. She is in good spirits, sleeps outside at night and purrs whenever her caregivers approach and pet her. Misty is a character, full of energy and play. She has a stiff front leg but that does not stop her from running around her yard trumpeting when Scott coaxes her with the 4-wheeler. Both Lota and Misty appear to be experiencing some joy in their lives.

Misty and Lota are settling in

Back to top

November 20 , 2004
Today Misty proved how cooperative she plans to be. She allowed Scott to use a bolt cutter to cut the chain that was around her ankle when she arrived. The chain was too tight to undo the clevis so it had to be cut. Even though Misty does not know her caregivers well, she stood perfectly still and allowed the chain to be cut. She even had a sparkle in her eye, giving her caregivers the sense that she liked the special attention.

Off comes the chain

Misty and Lota discovered the outside water trough, Hohenwald river cane, and a favorite toy of the other elephants, the "Amazing Graze". All of today's discoveries had to do with food and freedom; freedom of choice. Lota and Misty seemed to enjoy it all.

 Watch Slide Show!

Back to top

November 19 , 2004

It's hard to believe that Lota and Misty have only been here for two days; it does not seem possible. They have settled is so well it is like they have been here their entire lives. Misty is turning out to be quite the character; playful, attentive and engaging. Even though she is nearly double Lota's weight and full of energy, Lota is in charge. When it comes to food or choice of who stands where, Lota asserts herself. She actually physically pushes Misty around. it is so funny to see Lota, a wisp of an elephant, put her head down and forcibly shove Misty to the side. What a great pair they are.
While Lota focuses all of her time on eating, Misty has been learning lots of new skills. Today she mastered the art of shifting in and out of the restraint chute. Of course it is not difficult or painful, but all 10,000 pounds of this mighty beast has to want to cooperate, and she does. Just give Misty a hint of what you're looking for and a banana as a reward and she is on it. She is quick and ready for the challenge. In a flash she responded to the caregiver's request for her to test the chute. She came right in, stood while the doors were closed and calmly ate her goodies, bananas first. After several minutes the doors were opened and instead of dashing out, she hung out in the chute and finished every last morsel. She is one happy girl. Lota likes the opportunity to eat without Misty standing over top of her, so the longer Misty works on new skills, the more time& Lota has to savor her food. With the volume of food Lota is eating we expect to see an immediate weight gain.
They both enjoy staying out all night. With the weather still so nice they have had the opportunity to sleep in the pasture over night and wake to the sunrise and pasture grasses for breakfast. Between the fresh air, sunshine, amply space to move around, and healthy diet, both Lota and Misty should recover from their disease in record time.

Misty had her first target training lesson today. She is a natural. The goal was to get her to drape the end of her trunk over the top of the target. It took her only a few tries to figure it out, she is a very quick study. Lota has shown no interest at all in anything except eating which is completely understandable. She just needs a little time to fatten up so she can get her mind off of her hunger.

Target training

Back to top

November 18 , 2004

Lota and Misty had another enchanting day. Misty found the mud wallow quite an attraction. At first it appeared that she was having difficulty getting out; her front legs had sunk into the mud. When she climbed out it was obvious that she was having fun because she turned right around and went back in. The day was spend leisurely grazing and napping. Misty even demonstrated tool use by using a stick to scratch her ear. Lota solicited pets and was rewarded with a body rub from Scott and Carol. Misty solicited as well by presenting her hip for pets, a submissive posture signaling that she meant no danger. She too was rewarded with pets. At the 11pm feed, Misty shifted into the restraint chute and remained there for nearly 15 minutes. It will be a matter of days until they both are conditioned to remain in the restraint chute for their medication. Another good day.

 Watch Slide Show!

Back to top

November 17 , 2004

Lota and Misty arrived at 8am, safe and sound. After the trailer was parked in place and the ramp set up, the girls calmly walked off the trailer into their new barn. Misty was first; she was curious, cooperative and quite sweet. She comes with a killer reputation like many elephants that are released to the Sanctuary. We could see at first glance that she is attentive, mischievous, curious and at no time showed any signs of aggression. Misty will be a wonderful addition to the family. She calmly walked from the trailer into the barn, ate a few apples that were left for her and proceeded right outside. She investigated the yard and began grazing.
A few minutes later Lota walked out of the trailer, equally as calm. Her emaciated condition is quite disturbing but she is also attentive and showed no signs of concern or aggression. The two are very compatible, sharing a high level of curiosity. When Lota entered the barn Misty immediate returned from the yard and the two interacted, touching trunks. Within moments Misty discovered the toys strewed about the barn and began to play. They both exited the barn and went out into the yard. First they scratched on the trees, dusted themselves, and then they began to graze. Again they wandered back inside the barn and discovered the automatic waterers. They both drank, Lota drank nearly 30 gallons.
The next few days will be spent helping Lota and Misty get completely comfortable in their new home. With that goal accomplished they will both begin to receive medication for tuberculosis.

 Watch Slide Show!

See Ele-Cam photos of Lota and Misty on this Day of Days!

At 12:10am CT, they are 20 miles South of Indianapolis. While stopped for refreshments Misty drank 20 gallons of water and Lota drank 28. They are both relaxed and eating well.

November 16 , 2004

5:30 p.m. cst: 24 hours after the trailer left the Sanctuary to pick up Lota and Misty, the precious cargo was safely loaded and homeward bound. Both Lota and Misty are traveling well. They will stop for a rest during the night and arrive at the Sanctuary first thing in the morning.

November 15 , 2004

5:45 p.m. cst: Driver Jimmy Christy and Sanctuary co-founder Scott Blais left the Sanctuary to pick up Lota and Misty. At approximately 11PM, they were 1 hour north of Evansville, Indiana.

November 14 , 2004

Lota and Misty – From the moment that the TWRA reinstated the Sanctuary’s import permit two weeks ago, every effort has been made to bring Lota and Misty to the Sanctuary. In the donative agreement between the Sanctuary and the Hawthorn Corporation, John Cuneo agreed to deliver Lota and Misty but he has failed to live up to his contractual agreement. After daily phone calls to Hawthorn's attorney requesting that Hawthorn either deliver Lota and Misty or allow the Sanctuary to come get them, Cuneo has finally agreed to allow us to come get them. The Sanctuary will arrive at the Hawthorn Corporation Tuesday to retrieve our precious cargo. The trip from Richmond, Illinois to Hohenwald, Tennessee is approximately 600 miles. Lota and Misty will stop for a rest half way through the trip and arrive at the Sanctuary with the sunrise on Wednesday. They have waited a long time for their freedom.
THE REST OF THE HERD - There is no new developments with the other Hawthorn elephants. All continue to be held in the Hawthorn Corporation barn in Illinois.

Back to top

October 29, 2004

Lota and Misty – After a three month delay, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has lifted their suspension of the Sanctuary’s import permit and granted permission for Lota and Misty to move to the Sanctuary. Earlier this year, the TWRA, responding to a request by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, temporarily suspended the Sanctuary’s import permit. The suspension allowed time for the Department of Agriculture to research what threat MTB positive elephants pose to the surrounding community, wildlife and livestock. Both the Department of Agriculture and the State Department of Health hoped to prevent the importation of Lota and Misty, both MTB positive, in an effort to insure ZERO risk. The Sanctuary’s legal council and Executive Director worked diligently to develop THE ELEPHANT SANCTUARY RESPIRATORY PROTECTION AND INFECTION CONTROL PLAN. After many meetings and hours of dialog between representatives of all three agencies and the Sanctuary, the TWRA accepted the Sanctuary’s PLAN. Although the preventative measures outlined in the PLAN far exceed those required of other facilities housing MTB positive elephants, the Sanctuary views the outcome as a success. This is a small price to pay for Lota and Misty’s freedom. Arrangements are being made to move Lota and Misty ASAP.

For Lota

Sweet eldest sister
your new life begins
in paradise.

Savor each step, unchained,
feet planted on rich soil.
Lift your trunk
and catch drops of rain; then
lie down in the soft grass.
It's time for your tired body
to heal.

Gentle humans surround you
loving words and caresses
their only ways.
No hooks or beatings in paradise
freedom and joy will fill your days.

Stand and feel the sunshine
warming you body and soul .
All the water you need near by,
you and dear Misty
have finally come home.

Laura Linklater June 26/04

Back to top

October 20, 2004

LOTA and MISTY --On October 18th Sanctuary staff met with TWRA. There has been no decision.

THE REST OF THE HERD --The Elephant Sanctuary was informed on October 19th that the USDA Judicial Officer, William Jensen, will rule on the motions filed by the Hawthorn Corporation and the USDA.

The Judicial Officer is delegated authority by the Secretary of Agriculture to act as final deciding officer in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) adjudicatory proceedings. The mission of the Office of the Judicial Officer is to review carefully the record in each proceeding and to issue expeditiously a fair, clear, well-reasoned final USDA decision, which is consistent with law and USDA policy. The Judicial Officer's decisions are not reviewable within USDA, but any litigant in a proceeding, other than USDA, may seek judicial review of the Judicial Officer's decision.

There is no date set for the adjudication of this matter.

October 8 , 2004

Lota and Misty — Sanctuary officials continue in discussions with the Health Department in an effort to ensure that desired precautionary measures can be met.

The Rest of the Herd —The Hearing that was scheduled for October 7-8 was postponed to October 19. However, the Sanctuary was misinformed by the USDA hearing court clerk. The hearing does not involve any motions filed by John F. Cuneo, Jr. and The Hawthorn Corporation. The hearing is a continuation of the hearing concerning James G. Zajicek. A date has not been set for the Hawthorn hearing.

Back to top

September 28, 2004

Lota and Misty — The Elephant Sanctuary submitted their response to the Tennessee State vet's report at 4:00 PM today. Sanctuary officials met with the Tennessee Department of Health on September 27th, regarding their concerns with bringing Lota and Misty into the state. The meeting was promising. The Sanctuary does not know when a decision will be issued.

The Rest of the Herd —The Sanctuary has been informed by the USDA Hearing Court Clerk, that the hearing scheduled by the Chief Administrative Law Judge, Marc Hillson, for September 30th has been postponed until October 7th and 8th.

Back to top

September 22, 2004

Lota and Misty — The Elephant Sanctuary is reviewing a draft report provided by the Tennessee State vet regarding the importation of Lota and Misty. A response is being formulated which will be submitted to the TN Department of Agriculture by September 28, 2004.

The Rest of the Herd —The Sanctuary has been informed by the Hearing Court Clerk, that a hearing has been scheduled by the Chief Administrative Law Judge, Marc Hillson, for September 30th. The purpose of the hearing is to resolve the issues presented by all motions filed by Cuneo and the USDA.

Back to top

September 20, 2004

Lota and Misty — as of today, the Tennessee State Vet's report has not been released.

The Rest of the Herd — The USDA has not yet responded to the motions filed by the Hawthorn Corporation. Please continue to call the USDA representatives and make your opinion known, since there has been no change in the status concerning the movement of the elephants.

September 8 , 2004

We continue to wait for Dr. Wilson's report.

August 26, 2004

THE REST OF THE HERD -- On August 26th, The Elephant Sanctuary contacted Jim Rogers, Public Affairs Officer of the USDA, regarding

Mr. Rogers indicated that the USDA filed a motion to extend the imposed response deadline. In addition, the USDA filed an appeal disputing the authority of the Chief Administrative Law Judge to impose the stay on the Hawthorn August 15th compliance date.

August 16, 2004

THE REST OF THE HERD -- On August 16th, Suzanne Carr, The Elephant Sanctuary Project Manager, contacted Jim Rogers, Public Affairs Officer of the USDA, in regards to the August 15 deadline for placement of the 14 remaining Hawthorn elephants, Rogers stated that John Cuneo has made two motions:

1. Motion to compel enforcement of consent decision and order
2. Motion to vacate the consent decision and order

August 13 , 2004

LOTA and MISTY -- On Monday July 26th, two days prior to Lota and Misty's scheduled arrival at the Sanctuary, the Tennessee State Veterinarian voiced a concern. Although the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has jurisdiction over the movement of elephants into the state and only weeks before had issued an import permit for both elephants, the Tennessee State Veterinarian initiated an investigation to determine if Lota and Misty, both TB positive with the human strain of tuberculosis, pose a threat to the state's wildlife or cattle industry. It should be noted that there is no documented case of white tail deer or cattle contracting the strain of TB that these elephants are infected with. The Sanctuary is awaiting word from the Tennessee State Veterinarian regarding his findings.

THE REST OF THE HERD –- As of 5pm ET, Friday August 13, the USDA had not issued a formal statement regarding the August 15 deadline for placement of the 14 remaining Hawthorn elephants, as mandated in the consent decree signed by John Cuneo of the Hawthorn Corporation.

Suzanne Carr, The Elephant Sanctuary Project Manager, contacted Suzan Holl, USDA department spokeswoman, to inquire about the status of the “Hawthorn 16”. Holl stated that “the USDA is not issuing a statement at this time because it is not yet the 15th”. Holl indicated that there would be an official statement on Monday the 16th regarding the Hawthorn elephants.

August 2 , 2004

Dr. Wilson visited the Sanctuary today to inspect our quarantine facility. He plans to write a report to outline any concerns he has before giving his endorsement for Lota and Misty to come into the state.

Back to top

July 29, 2004

Dr. Ron Wilson, the Tennessee State Veterinarian, postponed Lota and Misty move into the state until he completes an investigation addressing the possible treat these two TB elephants pose to wildlife and beef cattle in the state.

A contract transferring ownership of Lota and Misty to the Elephant Sanctuary was signed today.

July 26, 2004

Today we reached our 1 million dollar goal!!! We can now accept 6 of the Hawthorn elephants. USDA and Hawthorn Corporation were informed that the Sanctuary is prepared to accept Lota and Misty immediately.

July 21, 2004

The Sanctuary office was flooded with mail in response to our urgent appeal to rescue the Hawthorn elephants. Everyone in the office was pleasantly in shock over the huge response to our efforts.

Back to top

July 20, 2004

The Sanctuary received an import permit from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency allowing us to import Lota and Misty.

July 19, 2004

The second phase of our urgent appeal, a letter explaining the situation, sent to all of our members today.

July 16, 2004

The Sanctuary embarked on an urgent appeal fund-raising campaign to raise the funds to build a new barn to enable us to accept 6 of the Hawthorn elephants, including Lota and MIsty. The first of a two-part campaign, our urgent appeal phone solicitation was made to all 35,000 Sanctuary members today. The response was overwhelming. Hundreds of members called to make a donation to assist in our efforts to rescue the Hawthorn elephants.

July 15, 2004

Delhi grazing away as the new barn door is moved with the backhoe. This door is being installed in the side wall of the quarantine barn to give the keepers greater flexibility and the elephants continual access to their yard. (Ele-cam capture)

Delhi watches progress on the quarantine barn

July 9, 2004

Sanctuary staff began making the necessary renovations to the quarantine barn in preparations for Lota and Misty's arrival. While the USDA orchestrates Lota and Misty's release, we continue to raise funds and renovate so that we will be ready to accept them when the time comes.
This new door will give the elephants free choice access in and out of their barn. With two elephants, this additional door is mandatory for safety and convenience.

 Watch Slide Show!

Back to top