Female Asian Elephant


The Excruciating Toll of Captivity


Lady Embodies Why Elephants Have No Place in Captivity

Captivity has taken an excruciating toll on her.  A circus elephant for over 40 years, her body and spirit barely resemble that of her wild counterparts. Her feet are in horrific condition, something that would never be seen in the wild. Emotionally, she has a deep-seated mistrust of humans and elephants, that speaks to what her past must have been like. That being said, she is strong, silly, playful, and is letting her guard down and opening her heart again.

After months of growth, Lady is learning to trust, and allowing in-depth care of her pre-existing health conditions, including her feet. There is still a long way to go with her foot care, and unfortunately, they will never be fully ‘normal’ or healed, but we already see an increased comfort. This is an enormous step for her, and our hope is that it helps to boost her confidence, allowing that to radiate into other parts of her much-needed healing.



With all that she has been through, Lady’s strength and spunk are awe-inspiring. She has a cheesy grin and gives you a look with her wide eyes, instantly melting your heart. Water is her friend, and whether it’s the hose, the mud wallow, stream, or pond, they all bring her joy. Watermelon is her preferred fruit, pumpkin, and its crunch, her favorite vegetable, but she’ll try to do anything for a handful of Froot Loops. When she is unsure of you, she wants you at a distance, when she trusts you, she wants you very close. She’s beastly, playful, and insecure, all at the same time.

The longer she is at the sanctuary, the more of her true self we expect to emerge. And we can’t wait to see it.


Read more about Lady in her diary.



Estimated at 50 years old (no official records).



Forever Home

Elephant Sanctuary Brazil




Bugalicious, Lady Bug




Insecure but spunky and loves to explore. Slowly building up trust in humans and elephants.




Ex-circus elephant for approximately 40 years, confiscated and sent to live at a zoo for six years.




Feet in terrible condition.  Existing joint disease most likely related to feet.  Old cheek abscess that is resolving at sanctuary.



Body Condition

Decent body weight, no core strength, some grandma belly.




Escaped her enclosure at the zoo only to walk 10 feet to eat grass.


Lady's Story From Circus and Zoo...

Lady at João Pessoa zoo

2013 - Sent to Zoo After 40 Years of Circus

In 2013 she was confiscated from the circus and relocated to a small zoo in João Pessoa, Brazil. The zoo did not have an elephant enclosure, so she was put in a “temporary” yard, surrounded by hotwire, while her permanent enclosure was being built. Her circus owner transitioned to the zoo to be one of her keepers. According to officials related to the zoo, her foot disease was already evident at that time.

Lady at João Pessoa zoo

Early 2014 - Chained in a Yard Too Small

In January, almost a year later, it was discovered that Lady was still being held in this tiny temporary yard, which brought activist, media, and political attention to the situation. One of our board members went up to visit with Lady to see what could be done to help. Lady was frustrated and acting out in an attempt to vent this. We saw that she was kept on a chain, in a yard that is so small she could only take a few steps. Her health was compromised due to lack of foot care, and her foot issues had developed to a point that they will need lifelong in-depth care; not only are they painful, but she is most likely suffering from osteomyelitis.

Lady at the zoo

Mid 2014 - Moved to a New Space in Zoo

In July of 2014 Lady was moved into a new space at the zoo. With this move, those involved in her possible relocation to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, went back on their initial statement that they wanted her to go to the sanctuary. Instead, they stated that she was to remain at the zoo.  It was noted at that time that her feet continued to be a significant issue and may, as is the case for many captive elephants, be the cause of her death if her situation didn’t change and she was not relocated to an appropriate facility – one that can offer her space and much-needed foot and medical care.

To Sanctuary

2019- A Judicial Agreement Signed to Send Lady to Sanctuary

In (2019) Animal Protection Associations filed a Public Civil Action against the City Hall of João Pessoa and IBAMA (Brazil’s agricultural agency) seeking, among other requests, the transfer of Lady to a more suitable location. The reasoning stated was that Lady is in dire need of highly specialized care, a habitat more conducive to her species and development, and the companionship of others of her kind. After a lengthy legal battle, Elephant Sanctuary Brazil joined the process, and through many conversations, everyone involved decided that the best place for Lady was Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, and a judicial agreement was signed.

Lady at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil

Ways to Support Lady

Medical Support

Please give her the gift of healing

Lady will soon be able to embrace all of the emotional healing that sanctuary has to offer, but her road to physical healing will be long. Due to the advanced deterioration of her feet, Lady may require daily, life-long foot care. She can still enjoy sanctuary, but we need your help to make her stay as comfortable as possible.

Donate Now


We understand our supporters find a special place in their heart for certain elephants. If you have followed Lady’s wait for sanctuary and are looking forward to seeing her new life, you can show her some extra love and support. You can become her Ele-Guardian.