Picture: Dulary on the left and Misty on the right
Story by Lauren
Shortly after I started working at TES, the sanctuary welcomed a new elephant to the herd. Dulary came from the Philadelphia zoo and was a very beloved animal in the city. However, the zoo felt that the Elephant Sanctuary would provide Dulary with a better home and provide her with opportunities to live with other elephants, so they helped her safely make the trip from the east coast to western Tennessee. When Dulary arrived, the other elephants were both curious and excited to meet their new friend. But, Dulary was hesitant — she wasn’t used to being around other elephants and wasn’t sure that she wanted their company. During her first few weeks, she seemed withdrawn and quiet, keeping to herself. She stayed close to the barn and would fiddle around with rocks that she found, often placing them on her head. She had thousands of acres to explore and friends to make, but she wasn’t ready.
While most of the other elephants continued on with their daily adventures, one elephant (Misty) decided to stay close to the new arrival. She would calmy walk over to Dulary and show signs of affection, often not reciprocated. But, Misty was patient and I believe she knew that Dulary just needed some time. And, she did. It wasn’t immediate, but Dulary slowly began to warm up to Misty. She started being part of a pair, rather than being seen solo around the grounds. When she first came to the sanctuary, she was very quiet and we didn’t hear her vocalize. But, with Misty, she began to show her true colors and she started talking and trumpeting with playfulness. It took a couple of months until Dulary wanted to venture far from the barn, but over time Misty coaxed her to go a little farther—showing her that there were wonderful areas to explore and see.
In life, there are times that we need to be pushed……gently. We need friends who will support us and stand by us, but who will push us pass our comfort zone to open our eyes to new things. And sometimes we need to be that friend — like Misty — and show patience with others who are hesitant or scared. Throughout that year, Dulary found joy exploring her new home and becomign friends with Misty, and Misty seemed overjoyed with the new bond she helped forge. I believe that wild animals, especially elephants, need more than just space. They need space where they can roam and explore, and a home where they can find companionship.
They are one of the world’s largest land animals and perhaps have the biggest hearts. I am grateful that the Philadelphia zoo helped Dulary find a new home and although it took her time to feel at home, I think she was thrilled to be there once she realized what sanctuary is all about.