Sanctuary Memories: Morning Light With Ramba

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


  1. REPLY
    Carol says

    tears of sadness as well as gratitude for our stunningly wonderful Ramba…

  2. REPLY
    Allison says

    Beautiful Ramba! She was home and safe and free. Such a wonderful picture. Thank you.

  3. REPLY
    Tammy Nelson says

    So true and by chance I found out about Ramba and her long journey to finally get to ESB she is why I became involved with the Sanctuary. She was such an amazing elephant and one who touched my heart deeply I’m so glad I was able to follow her watching as she took that first step on to Sanctuary soil with tears in my eyes now missing her so terribly after she was ready to say goodbye. I will always always have a special place in my heart for beautiful Rambita 🐘 💞

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      We feel the same.

  4. REPLY
    Tracy H says

    Following grandma Ramba’s story and journey is what brought me to know all about ESB and all the amazing and beautiful things you all do for these magnificent girls. I instantly fell head over heals for Ramba and my heart truly broke into when she past. I will never forget what a blessing it was for her to reach her paradise and feel freedom, love and true friendship from my other love bug Rana. Can’t thank each and everyone enough that helps keep ESB what it
    is today and what it will be in the future Much love to each of you and all the lovely ladies
    Rana, Mara, Maia, Lady and Bambi. And the incoming G & P🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘❤️❤️

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you so much. Like Scott said, every moment an elephant spends at sanctuary is a gift and one we are honored to offer.

  5. REPLY
    Susan Flewelling says

    I discovered the sanctuary just as Ramba was setting out on her journey to you. She was my first elephant and holds first place in my heart. You all filled her last months with so much love and caring. Bless each and every one of you.

  6. REPLY
    Cathe Cracknell says

    I don’t think we can thank you enough for what you do for these beautiful creatures of God. At least Ramba got to experience the joy of sanctuary. .thanks to you! ❤

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you for saying that. We agree completely.

  7. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    Ramba the sweet grand dame of ESB. Miss you dear lady🌈

  8. REPLY
    Julie says

    This post must have been tougher to write as it was to read. Thank you for making the effort!

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Remembering the beautiful memories makes it easier. Ramba was a very lovely lady whom we all loved.

  9. REPLY
    Alana says

    There will never be anything else exactly like “The Ramba effect.” Very special . So glad I got to know her.

  10. REPLY
    John says

    Thank you for sharing on Ramba. I didn’t follow the sanctuary until after she was gone. It’s nice to know how things started and progressed over the years.

  11. REPLY
    Sue says

    I miss sweet Ramba, so much. Thank you for your memories and your post. I still remember when she arrived and, as you said, it was like she knew. She hung on and beat the odds to get to Sanctuary and I am so thankful to all at ESB that made it happen. Ramba’s hay berets always gave me a little chuckle. She was so inspirational, a strong soul who never gave up. And to have been able to grow a friendship with RanaBug was just the icing on the cake. I think what has surprised me most over the years is how individual they all are, with their own personalities. It is such an honor, and thank you all again for all you do. ❤️🐘❤️

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      It is wonderful to hear stories from our sanctuary family on their connections to the elephants. We know they affect all of us, but it brings extra meaning to know so many of you are with us on this journey. Thank you for remembering Ramba with such fondness. She was a lovely old gal.

  12. REPLY
    Charlotte Hansen says

    thank you for this deeply moving reminder of our beloved Ramba.

  13. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    Ah, Ramba! The Ramba effect still imbues ESB every day. In fact, I’m pretty sure she’s still doing elephant whispers in Rana’s ears, keeping a steady hand on the tiller. Of course we miss her physical being, but even though we can’t see her – she is still very much present 🎁 !

  14. REPLY
    Tammy says

    Ten hours Ten days Ten years…..thank you Scott 🐘💞

  15. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    Ah, Rambita! Always smile through tears when I think of you ❤️ You made it to Sanctuary, finally, and you found Rana…Life was good. That’s what counts.

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