Nosey's New Social Opportunities

It has been an exciting few weeks for Nosey as she welcomed a new African elephant, Jana, to The Sanctuary and for the first time, shared habitat space with her barn mate, Asian elephant Sissy.

The Story of Nosey

Nosey was born in Zimbabwe in 1982. She was captured from the wild in 1984 and sent to Ocala, Florida, and then in 1986, was transferred to animal trainer David Meeks of the Meeks Company in South Carolina. She was purchased by Hugo Liebel in 1988 and traveled with the Liebel Family Circus as the sole elephant performer for 29 years until the end of 2017.

In November 2017, Nosey was seized by Lawrence County Animal Control in Moulton, Alabama, after concerns for her care and well-being were raised by the public. The Sanctuary was contacted to provide emergency care, and Nosey arrived in Tennessee soon after. Since Nosey first arrived at The Sanctuary, Alabama courts have affirmed the County’s actions, which set the stage for Nosey’s permanent residence at The Sanctuary.

After years of traveling, performing, and giving rides, Nosey came to The Sanctuary with a number of health issues, including a history of exposure to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It was recommended at the time that Nosey remain separated from other African elephants at The Sanctuary who have no history of exposure to TB. After several years of observation and negative tests, and results indicating no evidence of a transmittable risk to others, The Sanctuary asked a roundtable of expert veterinary and medical consultants to review all medical information. After review and discussion, the group made the unanimous recommendation for Nosey to be integrated with those she is socially compatible with, which was a long-time priority of The Sanctuary.

New Social Opportunities with Jana and Sissy

The arrival of African elephant Jana (and Edie to follow) from Zoo Knoxville has been much anticipated. The plans have been for Jana and Edie to join Nosey, providing her with compatible social opportunities. After Jana’s arrival and after she had time and space to familiarize herself to her new surroundings, Jana was introduced to Nosey through a fence line, which allows the elephants to grow comfortable in their own time before sharing direct space. Jana is known to be a more dominant elephant and she displayed some of those behaviors upon meeting Nosey, standing tall with ears flared out and throwing her trunk over the fence top as if to say, “I am bigger than you.” Both Sanctuary Staff and Jana’s long-time zoo care staff agreed that this was normal and expected behavior. In the days following, the two have been seen touching trunks through the fence and indulging in a meal or two while standing closely. Both Jana and Nosey have reacted positively to these greetings, and we are excited to see them get to know each other! 

At The Sanctuary, Nosey has shared the nine-stall barn with Asian elephant Sissy, and after testing negative for TB, they have had access through a protected barrier. Cognizant of the physical and behavioral differences between African and Asian elephants, Nosey and Sissy each have had their defined areas of the habitat. Over time, Staff continued to watch Nosey and Sissy’s relationship blossom into an affiliative friendship, where they seek each other out, rumble, stand quietly together, and graze together. Because of this remarkable growing companionship, Nosey and Sissy were given the opportunity to share direct habitat space. With Care Staff and Husbandry close by to provide supervision if needed, Nosey and Sissy proved that their friendship carries on no matter what, with a positive first greeting, followed by prolonged interactions. They chose to stand very close to each other for most of the day. Nosey and Sissy were continually rumbling, Sissy was popping her trunk (a sign of excitement), and Nosey was very tactile with Sissy throughout their shared time. Even through the rainy weather, they opted to stay outside, strolling around their habitat, munching on spring grasses and hay together.

We delight in the incredible strides Nosey has made in trust, confidence, and strength since her arrival to The Sanctuary in 2017. She has been an active participant in her own healthcare. She energetically explores and engages with her surroundings, even creating shortcuts for herself by climbing over large logs and moving trees to forge trails down to the valley in her habitat. She exhibits excitement in being with herd mate Sissy, and we are looking forward to many more bonding experiences for Nosey with her new companions and their growing herd.

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