February 1, 2012

Lottie and Minnie Found Sanctuary January 31, 2006

Lottie and Minnie
Lottie and Minnie - trunk to trunk!

Happy Anniversary, Minnie and Lottie! On this momentous day in 2006, Sanctuary staff and supporters waited with bated breath for the first two of the Hawthorn Girls on the Caravan to Freedom to arrive. Hope and the promise of freedom filled the air as Minnie and Lottie confidently crossed the threshold into their habitat, their Sanctuary. Lottie left us in 2010, but her spirit lives on in everyone who loved her, especially Minnie. Two of Minnie and Lottie’s Caregivers, Angela and Sam, share their memories of the terrific twosome.

Caregiver Angela: “Although I love my role now working with and caring for Tange and Flora, I will always miss the first Girls I cared for at Q Barn."

Watch Slide Show!

Caregiver Angela continues: "Minnie was, and will always be, a uniquely challenging lady to care for. She is so incredibly intelligent and physically capable, her talents amaze even those who see her and experience her personality every day. She could give you moments of wanting to pull your hair out trying to figure out how to occupy  her and ask her not to dismantle things, but she also gives sweet moments when she’s quiet and content, and just seems to enjoy time with “her people” now and then. She loved Queenie and Lottie very much, and this affection was evident, as they were inseparable before we lost those two wonderful Girls.
I don’t know that we have defined “favorites” among the Girls, but sometimes there is just something extra about one of them. Lottie was very special, and I seemed to have deeper attachment to her for some reason. So many words could describe her:  quiet, sweet, polite, kind, nurturing, accepting, tolerant, and patient beyond measure. I know we have all  spoken before about how she was the “mother figure” , the matriarch of the Hawthorn elephants, pretty much. Lottie never seemed to meet anyone she didn’t like, and there never seemed to be anyone who didn’t adore her.
Her features gave her a unique, “long faced”  appearance, with pronounced brow and cheek bones. Her lower lip was usually a tad bit dangly, but just the very tip.  She had those funny black ele-hairs on her chin, and of course her famous, long, lush eyelashes. She may not have been attractive in the usual interpretation, but she was beyond beautiful to me and everyone who loved her. She was just always so relaxed and had such an easy way about her as she moved through her day, calm and content. Of course, this would change if she and  Minnie were out of each others’ sight for a while, then Lottie would flip a switch and become VERY animated and her little ears would flap back and forth very fast, tail up and out, trunk up and reaching in Minnie’s direction as they rolled across the pasture toward one another at an ele-sprint pace.


Lottie searches for Minnie on a sunny day

She had an awesome little trumpet, and was very vocal upon their reunions. That is one thing we talked about missing so much after she was gone….that end of the barn was so quiet at the end of the day, and my heart ached for Minnie during those times when it used to be normal to hear Lottie-already inside- greeting her happily and noisily when she entered the barn through the flaps.  I think it ached a bit for myself as well, and I still miss her every time I think about her. Her picture hangs in my locker to this day.  I still wish I could see her on the Ele-cam alongside Minnie in the habitat when I watch from Africa. She’ll always be there, just not where I can see her.  I’ll always feel her. I don’t visit her resting place in field 7 as I used to, I guess I just feel like she has moved on and I don’t need to be at that spot to be close to her. I am so glad I got to know her every day, and will carry that with me always.
I only wish I had one more time to stand close, speak quietly to her….she would lower her head a bit, sniff gently with her trunk, slow-blink those amazing eyes, and seemed to listen to every word.”

Caregiver Sam: “Minnie and Lottie had a very special, interesting relationship.  Minnie, as you all know, can be quite dominant towards the other elephants.  This pushiness never came out towards Lottie, though.  With Lottie, Minnie was always perfectly polite.  She might have stolen a bit of Lottie's food every now and then, but only if Lottie allowed her to.  If Lottie wasn't finished, then she made sure that Minnie understood that and left her alone.  Minnie would always back off, with a meekness that was completely foreign for her normally.

Also, as you all know, Minnie can be quite the trouble-maker.  As Minnie would be dashing about, taking down fencing and generally causing havoc, Lottie would be grazing quietly, completely uninterested in her friend's antics.  As Caregivers would arrive to repair the damage or to get Minnie out of areas she wasn't supposed to be in, we would often appeal to Lottie in good-natured frustration, ‘Lottie, can't you make her stop?  Can't you call Minnie back?’ She would just blink at us with her oh-so-long eyelashes as if to say, ‘Oh no, you're on your own!’

We all still miss Lottie a great deal, but in her absence Minnie's relationship with Debbie and Ronnie is slowly growing.  It's so wonderful to see the elephants forming new bonds to deal with their grief.”

“The anniversary of their arrival is still a huge celebration, as it was a turning point for a happier, much deserved life.” Caregiver Angela.

From our website:

January 31, 2006 - Lottie and Minnie arrived at the Sanctuary at 12:00 noon. Their trip was uneventful; they remained calm throughout the trip. Lottie had loaded into the trailer first, so she would be second to unload. Minnie, on the other hand, had backed into the trailer, which gave her a full view of everything unfolding as preparations were being made for her unloading. She watched curiously. When the final bar was removed, Minnie effortlessly stepped down from the trailer into the barn. She immediately found the hanging toy and swung it around, then turned to face Lottie who was still in the trailer. Scott removed the bars in front of Lottie and she calmly stepped out of the trailer. The two elephants exchanged affectionate touches and soft whispers with their heads held close together. Without a bit of apprehension, both Lottie and Minnie entered the restraint chute and stood on the scale. Lottie went in first, weighing 8,550, and then "tanker Minnie", weighing a whopping 11,130 pounds. Minnie is our new heavyweight Sanctuary resident, even bigger than Shirley and Misty.

Lottie proceeded to the exit door, stuck her head through the rubber flaps, momentarily stopping, and then walked right outside. It was amazing to see her and Minnie exit the barn and enter the habitat in such a graceful, confident manner, exploring every inch of their new surroundings as they went.

The remainder of their day was filled with exploration and the uninvited intrusion of playful dogs as they ran past, engaged in their own adventure, completely oblivious of the newcomers.

January 30, 2006 - At 4:00 p.m. two of the Hawthorn elephants, Minnie and Lottie, were loaded into the Sanctuary's trailer for their trip to Tennessee. The loading was uneventful as would be expected from seasoned circus performers. They are scheduled to arrive tomorrow around 12:00 noon, CST.

January 28, 2006 - Coordinating the many people involved in a transfer of this size is a challenge, but it appears the schedule has been set. The first two elephants to be moved from the Hawthorn Corporation will be Minnie and Lottie. They are scheduled to arrive at the Sanctuary Tuesday, January 31st, at approximately 12:00 p.m. CST. The other girls will also arrive in pairs on Thursday, February 2nd; Tuesday, February 7th; and Thursday, February 9th. All arrivals will be broadcast live on the Sanctuary's EleCam.

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  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!
At 12:00 pm, on January 31, 2006, Minnie became the fifteenth resident of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee arriving with her best friend Lottie. She was the first of eight circus elephants from the Hawthorn Corporation to make the "Caravan to Freedom" trip.

Watch Slide Show from Feb. 1, 2006, the day after Minnie and Lottie's arrival.

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