Lady Epitomizes the Autonomy of True Sanctuary


One recent morning, Kat was giving Lady a drink from the hose in Yard 3 when Lady spontaneously decided to take a bath. Her bath nicely muddied one of the elephant-made mud wallows, so it turned into a small mud party. Lady had a wonderful time, and it eventually segued into her scratching on a nearby tree. It isn’t The Itchy-Scratchy Tree, but it is a tree that everyone enjoys using as an itchy-scratchy tree. She rubbed and smiled, lifting her legs and contorting her body to make sure she got every spot. She looked incredibly content with her muddy self.

In so many ways, Lady epitomizes the autonomy of sanctuary. While everybody knows how important choice is, we still all have a vision of what sanctuary should be and how their time here should look. Moments like this with Lady remind us that it is up to them – every elephant is different, and that also means they all want something different. Rana wanted a friend, but Lady wants other things.

Sometimes she spends her days exploring Yard 5, wandering to places that Rana still hasn’t explored, even though Rana has been here for longer. Other times, Lady chooses to be by the barn and stay close. At those times, we don’t encourage her to explore, nor do we try to convince her to spend time with the other elephants. It’s nice when that happens, but only if that’s what Lady wants.

Lady has come so far in the months she has been here, and, in six months, she may want different things still. No matter what she wants or who she is, we completely accept her for who she is and what she needs in each moment. We encourage her to decide how her life looks each day – and sometimes that is hanging out in a small corner of Yard 3, or maybe it’s exploring the second creek crossing in Yard 5, or perhaps it’s watching Rana & Mara splash around the pond. When she chooses to socialize, she enjoys her time interacting with others. We recently saw her swimming while Rana and Mara were nearby. Lady can leave when she wants, but she also comes back when she wants.

She seems to have her own schedule of spending a few days in the bigger yards, exploring and walking around. She will hang out around different trees, bushes, and grasses. She enjoys different smells and hangs out close enough to the other elephants to socialize, but also with enough distance that she can feel comfortable. After a few days, she seems to get tired – some of that is physical, but some is likely emotional too. Once she starts looking tired, she often comes back and spends a few days near the barn, seeming to recharge herself, and then she will go back out and explore again.

We want her to continue to heal and to be the best version of herself she can be. What that means, and what that looks like, and how she arrives, is all up to her. True sanctuary allows each elephant the ability to determine those things for themselves. Every elephant here, and every elephant to come, has this same autonomy, and this same ability to choose. Lady stands out in this because what so many envision for her isn’t what she needs or desires. When we give each elephant what they want and need instead of what we feel that we want for them, that is when they blossom.

September 8, 2020


  1. REPLY
    Nancy Shaw says

    CHOICE is the Key 🙂

  2. REPLY
    arie says

    It is heaven-on-earth for the elephants at the sanctuary . Great job, you guys, incredibly devoted you are. you deserve the Nobel prize Price ?❤️

  3. REPLY
    Sheila says

    Yes! Little ?lady is unique! Who knows what will happen when bambi ?arrives? Will they have ever met before❓. It will be exciting to watch. As lady could just then desire to have a close friend‼️ as long as lady is enjoying her free life at her pace alone is great‼️ she dances to her own drumbeat?.

    • REPLY
      Tammy says

      Beautifully said ?

  4. REPLY
    Julia Mercedes Eden says

    SO true, SO beautifully written and SO , SO clear why Global Elephants ? Sanctuary, Brazil ?? was recently awarded it’s SO well deserved international recognition and accreditation for their true passion for giving real sanctuary , healing, freedom and love ? to every elephant ? fortunate enough to pass through their’doors’. Mammoth bravo ? GSE, Brazil ❤️

  5. REPLY
    Jillyp says

    Beautiful and amazingly understanding, you are the perfect perfect guardians of these magnificent souls ❤️????

  6. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    She seems very happy and that’s everything. So glad she’s there.

  7. REPLY
    Lila says

    I guess Lady knows what she needs to heal, physically and emotionally, walking or resting or swimming or socializing… she surely blossoms 🙂

  8. REPLY
    Wim says

    All and all a real LADY who decides her priorities in her own time and place. She’s so utterly adorable all the way. Her adaption of the sanctuary is surely amazing. Would like to read her to-do list and wishlist. Thank you for wonderful comments. What a gentle Mother Superior. ???

  9. REPLY
    Linda says

    Freedom for them is their GOD given right and you have given these magnificent animals just that. Thank You x

  10. REPLY
    Renee' Killian-Zeiger says

    I LOVE Lady…I have to say as much as I LOVE all the stories about all the girls, there is something that pulls me to Lady….EVERY TIME! Thank you Scott and Kat and all your “human herd” that make this sanctuary possible for these amazing Elephants ! Soon to be
    God Bless you all and may His hand be on your lives and the lives of these beautiful girls!

  11. REPLY
    Bo says

    Beautiful words and such a wonderful insight in the vision and the whole purpose and goal of the elephant sanctuary.
    Especially the last part :

    ====>When we give each elephant what they want and need instead of what we feel that we want for them, that is when they blossom.<====

    You hope and wish this would be possible for all the animals. That people would realise it is not about what the humans want or need but what is best for the animals and what the animals need.
    Again, beautiful words full of warmth and wisdom.

  12. REPLY
    Carol says

    Beautifully put; full respect to you and what you are doing for these magnificent creatures. Truly wish all captive Elephants could all experience your vision of Sanctuary.

  13. REPLY
    Paula says

    Todo lo que describes es tan dulce y conmovedor… Kat eres una persona hermosa y maravillosa!Muchas gracias por compartir con nosotros el día a día en el Santuario ?
    Estoy muy feliz por Lady!
    Ella lo está haciendo muy bien, ella se siente muy bien! Hermosa y tierna Lady❤
    Dios bendiga a ESB ?

  14. REPLY
    Carey says

    Autonomy must still be mind blowing at times and take some getting used to, how wonderful it must be too, yes they are all different in their needs. It must be a joy watching each character develop. Dear Lady.

  15. REPLY
    Julie says

    There is something special about Lady! And thank you for reminding us that getting to know herself, maybe for the first time in her life, is what she wants and needs right now!

  16. REPLY
    Sallie says

    Lady’s intelligence and sensitivity is incredible. She knows that she possesses special gifts of “sense of being” and an “intuitive comfort level”. There is nothing less exciting than her ability for the Bigger Picture. What an amazing elephant! She blows my mind every day . . .

  17. REPLY
    Shirley Taylor says

    It is wonderful getting updates on the girls. Lady is truly happy in what she does and it does not matter how long it takes for her to try something new. You Scott and Kat have a fantastic understanding of what is best for them all. Thank you for finding time to update us all and helping and understanding what each girl wants. xx

  18. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    This is sanctuary! Lady finding Lady. Lady being Lady.

    Thank you is never enough! XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

  19. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman Eaton says

    Great post about Lady Bug. It is true, we must remember what we as humans want for these precious beings, maybe not what that particular elephant wants or needs. All about THEIR each individual choice.

Post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.