Many of you may remember the late, beloved elephant, Ramba, who was one of the inspirations for creating Elephant Sanctuary Brazil. We first learned about Ramba all the way back in 2009 and had been searching for a way to help her for years. Once Scott and Kat made the decision to establish ESB, Ramba was the first elephant on their minds. Known as “The Last Circus Elephant in Chile,” she was confiscated from the circus for abuse and neglect. It was a very complex and difficult project to bring Ramba to Brazil (read her miraculous story here), but from the first moment she stepped onto sanctuary ground, she seemed to understand all of the things we’d been telling her about what life could be like.
Scott remembers the morning after Ramba joined us, she already looked brighter. He says he will never forget “that first day after arrival, after questioning if she would even be able to make the trip, and questioning if we should make the trip, assessing her one day at a time, and then realizing she was showing us that she was ready to go – that she was strong enough.”
Ramba was diagnosed with kidney disease seven years before coming to ESB, and the doctors who evaluated her gave her only a year to live. She proved them wrong time and again. Over and over, Ramba’s caregivers told her what her life would be like at sanctuary, and that seemed to be enough to help her journey on and fight for more, until she at last felt freedom. “She so quickly began to look like that spunky grandma we all fell in love with,” Scott said. “We all know there was a real journey that went along with it, but seeing the radiance begin to return to this elephant who went through a lot before she got here, and had to wait a long time to get here at all,” was deeply emotional.
Once at sanctuary, Ramba found great joy and formed a profound friendship with Rana. We will never know, but it is possible that once Ramba understood that she was safe and loved, she may have felt comfortable enough to stop fighting. She was tired and may have trusted us enough to relax into what was ultimately inevitable.
“We always say – ten hours, ten days, ten years – it doesn’t really matter how long [the elephants] have at sanctuary. Every moment is important, critical, meaningful, impactful. If Ramba had passed away ten days after her arrival, we would all have been upset, but seeing what sanctuary meant to her from that very first moment stuck with a lot of people who got to know her,” Scott said. For all of us, and especially for Ramba, this first, powerful moment was what made the fight to get here worthwhile.
Photo of Ramba