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Offline Rapunzel

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Elephants reunited after 20 years.
« on: April 25, 2012, 11:29:21 PM »

Elephants reunited after 20 years.

Two crippled elephants reunited at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee after a 22-year separation. The bonding was immediate, intense and unforgettable between the two former circus elephants.

Who says it's only humans that can feel heartsick? The story of these two elephants, from start to finish, is one that will really touch your heart. If you like animals and happy endings, this is for you.



Born: 1948
Birthplace: Sumatra
Birth status: wild born
• Captured from the wild: 1953
• Life before the Sanctuary: performed for thirty years with the Carson and Barnes Circus, then lived at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo for another twenty-three years
• Reason for coming to the Sanctuary: crippled and living alone
• Shirley moved to the Elephant Sanctuary July 6, 1999

Height: Nearly 9 feet
Weight: 9200 lbs.
Favorite Food: Apples

Shirley is our oldest elephant, wild caught in Sumatra over fifty years ago.

Her back right leg was broken thirty years ago when she was attacked by a fellow circus elephant. She is missing a large section of her right ear as result of a fire which not only injured her ear but also left several scars on her back, side and feet.

Hohenwald, Tennessee (June 9, 1999) - Shirley, a rare Asian elephant who has spent most of her life entertaining audiences all over the world, will retire July 6 to the Elephant Sanctuary, the nationally renowned, natural-habitat pachyderm refuge located in Hohenwald, TN.

"We're overjoyed that after such a storied career Shirley will be joining our other elephants," said Carol Buckley, founder and executive director of The Elephant Sanctuary. "Yet, making way for her arrival will be both emotionally and financially demanding."

"The transport and care of an elephant like Shirley doesn't come cheap" she adds. "We'll need the help of our supporters and volunteers, as well as new sources, to provide a seamless transition to this new chapter of Shirley's life."

Shirley was fifty-one when she was retired to The Elephant Sanctuary. She has quite a colorful past. At age five, she was captured from the wilds of Asia and was purchased by the Kelly–Miller Circus. In 1958, while the circus was traveling through Cuba, Fidel Castro seized power. Shirley and the entire circus were held captive by Castro's forces for several weeks before being set free. Unfortunately that was not the end of Shirley's saga. A few years later, her circus ship was docked in Nova Scotia, when a fire broke out in the engine room. This incident caused the ship to sink, killing two animals. Luckily, Shirley was rescued without harm.

Story and photos about the ship fire in Nova Scotia.

In 1975, at age twenty-eight, while performing for the Lewis Brothers Circus, Shirley was attacked by another elephant. Her right hind leg was seriously broken. It was not set and healed poorly, causing everyday life to be somewhat difficult. Regardless of her injury Shirley was forced to perform in the circus for nearly two more years before being sold to the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo in Monroe, LA.

Usually female elephants live in-groups, but for safety concerns related to her injury, Shirley was kept apart and lived alone at the zoo for twenty-two years. According to the Sanctuary Founding Director Carol Buckley, the Zoo was generous to Shirley by providing her with a loving environment, but the time came when the Zoo felt Shirley could lead a healthier life in a natural habitat. That is when the Zoo contacted The Elephant Sanctuary.

"We knew we could trust The Elephant Sanctuary to offer Shirley the kind of life she deserves," explained The Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo Director, Jake Yelverton. "It was in Shirley's best interest to retire her to a place that was more suitable."

"It goes to show after everything Shirley has been through, what survivors these animals really are," said Buckley.

Shirley moved to the Sanctuary July 6, 1999 joining Tarra, Jenny and Barbara, the three residents.


hirley — A Place in History

Shirley was one of dozens of circus animals rescued from a vessel destroyed by fire in Yarmouth harbour.

We are grateful to Bob Brooks/Yarmouth County Museum Archives,
Nova Scotia, Canada for these photographs.

Shirley, on the left, shares a bucket of water


Shirley (on the left) on board the ship

Residents never forgot elephants

One of three pachyderms that are part of Yarmouth folklore has been located: Shirley, last survivor

September 19, 2001
Richard Foot, National Post

HALIFAX - For thirty-eight years the people of Yarmouth, N.S., have been talking about elephants—pecifically three Asian elephants who came to town on board a circus ship in 1963, and were rescued from the vessel when it was destroyed by fire in Yarmouth harbour.

The animals were marched from the ship through groups of gawking fishermen and awestruck onlookers.

Firemen rescued tigers, llamas and leopards, too, but it's the fate of the elephants that has long intrigued the locals.

After the fire, dozens of the exotic animals were loaded on to trucks and driven back toward Florida, home of the Kelly and Miller Bros. Circus.

En-route, the trailer carrying the elephants crashed, and news reached Yarmouth that the pachyderms who survived the fire had perished on the highway.

"That's the last we heard," says Laura Bradley, archivist at the Yarmouth County Museum, who says the tale of the three elephants has remained a popular part of Yarmouth folklore.

Today, however, the tale has changed. Ms. Bradley has learned that one of the beasts from the 1963 fire is alive at an elephant refuge in the deep, verdant woods of western Tennessee.

Her name is Shirley—she is an old and haggard creature—but her existence and whereabouts have electrified the staff at the Yarmouth museum.

"I was surprised and thrilled to know she had survived," says Ms. Bradley. "I had written those elephants off when I read they'd been in a road accident. I felt it was the end of their story. But now the story lives on."

Yarmouth historians and staff at The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Ten., are eager to swap notes. The museum has archival photographs of Shirley's dramatic rescue from the circus ship; the sanctuary has the remaining details of Shirley's extraordinary life.

Says Carol Buckley, director of the sanctuary: "The museum has a booklet on the fire and photographs -- I'm very anxious to get any of that, it's part of Shirley's history."

News of Shirley reached Yarmouth through the Internet when a museum volunteer received a message from someone who had stumbled across the Web site of The Elephant Sanctuary.

The sanctuary claimed it had an old elephant that once survived a ship fire in Nova Scotia.

"I went to the Web site," says Ms. Bradley, "and when I read Shirley's story, I sobbed."

The elephant's biography, pieced together by the sanctuary from a succession of zoo and circus owners, says Shirley was taken from the wild as a calf and sold to the Kelly-Miller circus. For the next 25 years she trained and travelled across North America, often in wretched conditions, entertaining crowds under the big top. She was in Havana in 1958 when Fidel Castro seized power.

In June, 1963, the circus loaded Shirley and a menagerie of other animals on a cramped and ramshackle steamship, the Fleurus, for a summer tour up the East Coast of Canada. After three harrowing weeks at sea, the Fleurus reached Yarmouth, first stop on the tour.

Bob Brooks, a celebrated Canadian photographer who started his career in Yarmouth, recorded the visit with photographs and a diary that remain in the care of Ms. Bradley.

"He went on board when the ship arrived," she says. "It was listing badly to starboard, there were rotting chickens being fed to the carnivores, the place was full of flies and dung. The elephants were chained and struggling to stand straight on the tilting ship. Bob said they looked poorly."

The next day a parade of animals -- elephants, bears, llamas, zebras, lions, and cheetahs -- performed for the curious in a nearby field. After the show they were caged back up on the Fleurus, where a fire broke out in the engine room. There was a desperate effort by firefighters to release the live cargo from the ship, while local hunters stood guard with rifles in case an unruly animal bolted into the town.

"The sight of elephants, zebras and the leopard being walked along the wharf, with the chaos of the fire in the background, is something that Yarmouthians have never forgotten," says Ms. Bradley.

Brooks' photographs of the event made a two-page spread in the Toronto Star's weekend magazine.

The circus tour was abandoned and the stranded animals were eventually trucked back to the United States.

Although the elephant trailer did crash in a traffic accident, at least one of the elephants obviously survived.

Ms. Buckley says Shirley toiled in circuses until 1977, when another elephant attacked her and broke her hind leg.

Now a cripple, she was transferred to a Louisiana zoo, where she lived the next 22 years alone in a small, solitary compound, allowed not a breath of contact with her fellow kind.

In 1999, the zookeepers sent her to The Elephant Sanctuary, a private, 300-hectare haven established especially for sick or unwanted, female elephants.

When Shirley arrived there, she was 52, on the brink of old-age. Today she wanders freely and keeps the company of six other cow elephants, including Jenny, a younger animal Shirley first met in a circus barn.

Last year National Geographic featured Shirley in The Urban Elephant, a TV documentary on captive pachyderms.

Ms. Buckley says producers may want to do a follow-up program, after learning about the rich new details of the Yarmouth fire.

As for Ms. Bradley, she says she now has a complete and happy ending to add to the strange story of the circus ship that caught fire in Yarmouth harbour.

"Shirley is a symbol of hope," she says. "Every time I see an animal in a circus, I think maybe they, too, will have a happy ending and find their sanctuary."

The Fleurus was the last circus ship ever to reach Yarmouth. In 1997, the town became the first in Nova Scotia to ban all circuses, travelling by land or sea, with exotic animals in tow. Although at least four circuses still tour Canada each year with elephant acts, twenty-five other municipalities across the country—in British Columbia, Quebec and Newfoundland—no longer welcome them to town.


Reduced me to tears........ one reason I refuse to go to a circus, look at the scars on these elephants......
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 02:12:25 AM by Rapunzel »
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline Rapunzel

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Re: Elephants reunited after 20 years.
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2012, 11:59:32 PM »

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Elephant Sanctuary Haven For Abused Pachyderms
   Visit the Elecam

Original Article

The Daily Herald
Maury County, TN
Dec. 29, 2008
By Greg Menza

Director Finds Mission in Saving Animals

At last - sanctuary!

A close look at this elephant's front left foot reveals a chain used by circus handlers during her days of captivity. To this day she won't let her new owners at the Elephant Sanctuary remove it.
Staff photo by Greg Menza

When Carol Buckley is asked why she has devoted her life to the rescue and care of abused and unwanted elephants, she has a simple heartfelt answer.

“The Creator put me on this earth to help elephants. He created me for them,” she said.

Buckley is the executive director and co-founder with Scott Blais of the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald. She has more than 30 years experience in the care and management of elephants in captivity.

“I met a baby elephant when I was in my first year of college at Moorpark College Animal Management Program in California,” Buckley said. “The baby elephant I met is Tara. I started working with her as soon as I met her and bought her one year later. We have been together for 34 years.”

Buckley and Blais opened the sanctuary in 1995. It is the nation’s first natural habitat refuge for sick, old and formerly abused elephants. Currently, 18 elephants reside at the 2,700 acre refuge hidden in the hills outside of Hohenwald. The most recent addition is 21-year-old Ned, a 7,250 pound elephant recently confiscated by the USDA for his owner’s failure to comply with the Animal Welfare Act. Ned arrived at the refuge severely emaciated. He is being cared for at the Elephant Sanctuary until he can be moved to a permanent home in a sanctuary under construction in San Andreas, Calif.

“Ned is safe now, but has several as yet undiagnosed health problems. We keep him in a separate barn from the other elephants for the time being. He’s under veterinary care and we’ll be keeping a close eye on his recovery process while he is with us,” Kate Elliott said.

Elliott handles public relations and many other administrative duties for the Elephant Sanctuary, including greeting the few reporters permitted to visit the sanctuary. One of her jobs is to keep interviews short so that both directors can tend to keeping the sanctuary running smoothly.

Carol Buckley at the Sanctuary
Carol Buckley and Scott Blais opened The Elephant Sanctuary in 1995 on 2,700 acres outside of Hohenwald. Billie, Liz and Frieda can be seen behind Buckley grazing on their on patch of grassy hillside of the 2,700-acre refuge.

On the day of this interview, Blais was supervising the building of a new fence on the property which will expand the boundaries of one particularly active herd.

“We keep the more timid elephants away from the others by giving them their own area to graze,” Blais said. “Elephants are as individual as you and me. They each have their own personality and life experiences that shape their responses to life.”

Three of the elephants (Billie, Liz and Frieda) graze contentedly in a meadow close to the refuge offices. Jessie, Miai, Java, Andy, Grace and Eleanora share the refuge with the elephants. They are abandoned dogs rescued by staff members [Sanctuary correction from original article].

“Billie, Liz and Frieda are three of our most timid elephants but they get along well with the dogs,” Buckley said as pachyderms and dogs moved about. “These three and all our other elephants have stories of their time in captivity that would break your heart. Here they can live their lives out in peace.”

Like most Asian elephants who reside at the sanctuary, Billie is believed to have been captured from the wild at a very young age and shipped to the United States to spend her life in the circus. After her owners, the Hawthorn Corporation, were prosecuted by the USDA for inadequate care and mistreatment, she came to live at the Hohenwald refuge. Billie’s companions also were rescued from the Hawthorn Corporation.

Each elephant eats an average of 150 pounds of food a day. The annual cost of feed and care for each elephant at the sanctuary averages about $130,000.

Frieda, Billie, and Liz
Frieda, Billie and Liz were rescued from circus owners prosecuted by the USDA for mistreatment of animals. The three elephants are among the 18 who now reside at The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald.

“Our goal is that the bulk of their diet comes from the vegetation on our grounds, but we also supplement it with hay, grains and produce,” Buckley said.

Donations, fundraising events and the sale of items from the sanctuary’s website and newsletter help pare the expenses to keep the refuge operating. Buckley said she is very aware that some people question her cause when so many human needs also need to be met.

“I understand that there are some people who don’t appreciate the idea of helping a non-human species. I find that unfortunate,” she said. “I believe that all God’s creatures have a right to life. He’s called those of us here at the Elephant Sanctuary to help these unfortunate ones.”

The Elephant Sanctuary was honored in October for its commitment, perseverance and milestones achieved by Hohenwald, Lewis County and the state. In February, Buckley is scheduled to testify in a lawsuit several animal welfare groups and former Ringling employees are bringing against Ringling Brothers Circus. [correction from original article]

To learn more about the Elephant Sanctuary or to make a donation to its work visit The Elephant Sanctuary is a nonprofit organization.
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline mountaineer

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Re: Elephants reunited after 20 years.
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2012, 10:17:21 AM »
I am reminded of Sara Greun's book, "Water for Elephants."  I didn't see the movie (with Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon), but the book had scenes of the strange and sometimes brutal existence of circus animals.
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Offline Rapunzel

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Re: Elephants reunited after 20 years.
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2012, 03:04:17 PM »
I am reminded of Sara Greun's book, "Water for Elephants."  I didn't see the movie (with Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon), but the book had scenes of the strange and sometimes brutal existence of circus animals.

I started to watch Water for Elephants last weekend and couldn't get through it.  I spent time last night reading the website for this refuge for elephants... it is located in TN outside Nashville.  Seems there is a couple of these  -- the one in TN and in California.  They tell the stories of these elephants and how they came to the refuge and it is heartbreaking. I didn't realize a lot of the elephants killed in Africa, for example, are not only killed for their ivory, but so the babies can be taken and sold to the company here in the USA who buys the babies for up to $25,000 and then leases them out to various circuses.... not to mention the zoos which are neither set up for proper elephant care or even know how to properly train elephants.    One of the elephants at this refuge -- Tarra -- had a dog that adopted her and vis-versa....... the dog was killed recently by coyotes and they had proof the dog was not killed where she was found, Tarra had carried her back to their favorite resting place and laid her there for the handlers on the refuge to find her....... they say Tarra is still mourning the loss of her canine friend.  The elephant in this video -- Shirley -- lost her companion, Jenny (the elephant she greeted so affectionately after 20 years) and now spends a lot of her time off in the woods alone... I think the way we allow these animals to be treated -- be it in a circus or a zoo says a lot about society -- none of it good.
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

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