November 22, 2011
At The Elephant Sanctuary We Are Thankful for You, Our Supporters
For Each New Morning With Its Light,
For Rest and Shelter of the Night,
For Health and Food, for Love and Friends,
For Everything Thy Goodness Sends... Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is always Thanksgiving at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Here at The Sanctuary...the humans, the elephants, and even the wild turkeys who call this place home are thankful every single day for what a gift The Sanctuary is. We are always thankful for you, our supporters, and for the liberties the Girls enjoy each and every day because of you. In the words of our Caregivers, here are our expressions of heartfelt gratitude for this Sanctuary you are such an integral part of.
Caregiver Clint: We are all thankful for Caregiver Clint and his service for his country, so we can enjoy all of our freedoms.
"I am thankful for the knowledge that the Girls have given me these past few years. Seeing them heal and grow here has changed my life forever and helped me heal and grow in ways I never thought possible. I look forward to continuing to watch them grow together and hopefully add new friends and help them (also) find Sanctuary."
New Caregiver Maddie:
"I'm thankful for getting to be involved in the PC training. It has allowed me to gain a better understanding of the Girls and helped us to trust each other more. Flora is a rather intimidating elephant, so being that close to her takes some getting used to. I had to earn her trust for her to allow me to get that close, and I had to trust her in order to feel confident in what I needed to do. She and I seem to have a slightly different relationship now, and it's a wonderful feeling to know that even though she's been through so much, she's still able to trust people. I'm also thankful for the Sanctuary family. Being away from home on the holidays is hard, but having such wonderful people to work with and share the holiday season with makes it much easier."
"I think, as a whole, I'm just thankful that fate allowed me to cross paths with The Sanctuary. I was living in California, knowing I was going to have to move back to Tennessee. I had planned to go back to work at a vet office, but remembered seeing the TES website. They had openings, I applied, and that was that. Four years later, I am lucky enough to have cared for 11 of the elephant residents here. I started out at Q Barn taking care of Minnie, Lottie, Queenie, Debbie, Ronnie, Liz, Frieda, and Billie. Then along came Ned, and I feel lucky to have gotten to know him in his final months of life. I am thankful that I was a part - along with his other Caregivers - of giving him some peace and love after the short, hard life he had led. Now I get to see Tange and Flora every day, and that is also a gift. I am also thankful that, through my love for these Girls and my job as their caregiver alongside Maddie, that we are able to share so much of their lives with supporters and in turn educate people about the plight of all elephants waiting for Sanctuary."
"It is easy, sometimes, to get caught up in the day to day of any life, of any job, but here, we are all so thankful to have these incredible creatures to remind us every day what is truly important in the world. It is hard not to be moved into silence, into a stillness of your soul, when you come around a bend in the habitat, and see Shirley standing on a hill, looking down at the lake. Gazing into the distance. Smiling. Not a fence in sight, no matter which way you turn.
Caregivers at Asia were talking earlier about what we are thankful for, and Katie, a new caregiver, just beginning her training, without hesitation mentioned Sissy's happy noise. When Sissy is happy, she makes this little humming noise. Just a quiet little "hm-hm-hm" that keeps going, I don't even think she is aware other creatures hear it. It is clearly a noise just for herself.... I think one of the things that is so magical about this place is just how often you get to hear the Girl's happy noises, see their happy behaviors.
We caregivers get to see them in their own little worlds, just reveling in the little things in life, that, as captive elephants, become the big things in life-- like napping in the sun, feeling the rain on the their backs, dusting, seeing the moon, knocking down trees, swimming whenever they want—even in the middle of the night.
The other day, I was trying to get the elephants out the barn—it was a beautiful day, and Winkie came right out without hesitation. And we both stood out there, waiting for Sissy. Finally, I went back inside to check on Miss Sis. I found Sissy four stalls away, in the front corner. Smiling, distant look in her eye, making her happy noise and running her trunk along the bars, listening to the noise it makes. She was in her own little world. I called out to her—‘Sissy,' I asked, ‘What are you doin? Let's go outside!!' She looked at me, and then a few seconds later, her eyes focused and she actually noticed what she was looking at—a Caregiver with treats. That time, she followed me right outside, still smiling—and once we got outside, and she saw what a beautiful Fall day was in store for her, that big smile managed to, somehow, get even bigger.
It makes me sad, to think, in her previous life, she probably would have gotten punished for that, or reprimanded, just for zoning out, daydreaming, listening to the noises she could make, instead of doing an arbitrary behavior a human expected out of her. Punished for her incredible ability to find pleasure in every aspect of her life....
Every day, when I come to work, I am incredibly thankful. I am thankful that The Sanctuary exists, that these amazing girls were able to come here, find room to roam, bond with a herd that will never be broken, except by death. I am thankful that they can graze, and look up at the stars, and feel the sun on their back, and drink from puddles, and play in the mud. They are able to be elephants, to do elephant things. To become the creatures that they were meant to be, with minimum human interference in their lives.
I am thankful that I am able to be here, to bear witness to these girls. To watch their struggles, their triumphs, their love for each other and the world around them has been nothing short of life changing.
I am thankful to know that…I will carry each of these girls in my heart, and in my soul, every single day for the rest of my life. They say elephants never forget, well, neither can those who love them."
Our Caregivers Believe our Girls are Thankful For:
Naps in the sun
Naps in the shade
Naps half in the sun, half in the shade
Okay, all naps all the time, everywhere
Playtime in ponds and lakes
Drinking from the spring fed creek
Cool summer rain
Toasty warm barns