The difference even a day makes

Although Ramba’s time at sanctuary was short, it meant everything.

Imagine living for decades without seeing another of your species. We can’t know what Ramba was thinking or feeling over her years in captivity, but it is very likely that she felt truly, utterly alone at times. Yet Ramba had an indescribable quality that gave others hope: hope that she could have a better future, that a better world existed, and that maybe, if they could help offer her a bit of happiness, there was a chance for real change. Ramba did what no amount of reading and talking and studying could do – she was a living testimony for the power of sanctuary. 

Scott first heard of Ramba in 2009, when he was asked to consult on her possible rescue from a circus. Years later, Ramba was supposed to be removed from the circus but, because she had nowhere to go, the circus retained possession of her and just retired her from touring. After her confiscation from the traveling life of a circus elephant, an offer was made for her to be moved to a safari park in Chile. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but it was her last chance to be free from a situation that provided no real life for an elephant. Her rescue and transport to the safari park finally took place in 2012, and Scott and Kat stayed with Ramba to train both her and her staff of caregivers, none of whom had ever cared for elephants before. Ramba had a spunky grandma personality and, now that her whip-smart mind was being utilized, she picked up the needed behaviors quickly. 

From the beginning, it was no secret that Ramba had medical problems. We quickly learned that she had kidney disease, and multiple veterinarians estimated that she had roughly a year to live. Knowing that every opportunity to help an elephant live a better life is worth exploring, Scott and Kat made strict dietary adjustments and changed her care routine to include health supplements, oils and essences, and various treatments that were new to her; somehow Ramba lived another seven years. We returned to the safari park several times to check on her and address concerns, and she seemed to bounce back most of the time. But, no matter her progress, the goal of everyone who worked with Ramba was ultimately a life at sanctuary. She deserved no less. 

By the time things were eventually sorted out to bring her home to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, and we arrived in Chile to move her, we were concerned about whether Ramba’s health would allow her to make the trip. Everyone was aware of the risks, but they also understood that Ramba may not have much more time left in the world. Even so, all who knew Ramba – from her caregivers, to Chilean rescuers, to supporters – felt that she was worthy of everything that could be given; we all believed it was worth the risk to bring Ramba to sanctuary. It meant the opportunity to experience everything that was taken from her: other elephants, nature, seemingly endless space, and true autonomy. 

Once here, Ramba’s joy was not only evident, but it was inspiring. She embraced every moment of sanctuary, traveled to every corner, and never slowed down. Ramba wanted it all; she deserved it all. Though she was only here for ten weeks before passing away, she took advantage of her time here. Sometimes, it seems when an elephant understands they don’t have much longer to live, they dive right into life with a fervor and do their best to wring every drop of beauty from their days and nights. When an individual knows true love and safety, they may feel safe enough to relax and admit that they’re done fighting. Perhaps that is what Ramba did. 

There were many reasons to found a sanctuary in South America, and wanting a better future for Ramba was a big part of that. And, ultimately, she was also the elephant that epitomized how every moment of time spent at sanctuary is worth it. Ramba, like all captive elephants, lose so much when they live in cold, lonely, and inappropriate environments. Parts of them get lost or hidden along the way, and much of that hidden self emerges at sanctuary, and almost always quickly. Those of us who knew Ramba would not have traded the time, effort, expense or, truly, anything for those ten weeks of freedom. 



  1. REPLY
    Cintia Abney says

    Ramba synthesized everything a Sanctuary is about.. It worths the risks to provide them the last taste of life – the good one – so they can bring the taste, sounds, colors and the love of friendship all embedded in their spirit for their last journey ❤️❤️❤️ She sure imprinted ours and her sisters hearts with her loving soul 🐘 ❤️

  2. REPLY
    Susan Flewelling says

    Hardly seems posdible it was only 10 weeks. Ramba’s rescue and transport to sanctusry was my introduction to elephants. She holds a special place in my heart – and she was so very special.

  3. REPLY
    Samantha says

    I’m so grateful that Ramba was able to experience sanctuary. Thank you for this gift to Ramba and to all of us that love these elephants. Thank you for the post.

  4. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    Ah, Ramba! ❤️😢🥰🐘❤️ Conflicting emotions but happiness rules when I think of her behavior at Sanctuary! She was the stellar rescue!
    Love, love, love you Ramba and so glad your spirit is there to guide those who are – and who will come – to Sanctuary.

  5. REPLY
    NANETTE Cummings says

    Such a beautiful tribute to a beautiful Ramba.

  6. REPLY
    Carol says

    I am crying and smiling simultaneously! Love you forever, our precious Ramba. Rest In Peace.

  7. REPLY
    Vicky says

    Sweet Ramba will never be forgotten. I will always be so grateful that she was able to experience sanctuary-to know happiness if even for a short time. Thank you to all that gave this sweet girl the life that she so deserved.

  8. REPLY
    Alana says

    The “Ramba Effect” not just words on on my T-shirt but will live in my heart forever.

  9. REPLY
    Tammy says

    Beautiful gentle loving inspiring Rambita has taught us all to never give up face your challenges head on just like she did no matter how rough she felt she pushed through some days really struggling but she knew Scott and Kat would never give up on her they would never abandon her they had paradise ready freedom waiting. Even though her journey was long the road bumpy she handled it with grace and her legacy will always be remembered as such our sweet Grandma Ramba we love and miss you 💞

  10. REPLY
    Wim says

    A very special elephant still writing emotions.
    Living in the now takes a kind of magic.

  11. REPLY
    Terry says

    Rambam was true bliss!!! She was home, happy and ready to travel higher to watch over all!!! What an inspiration!

  12. REPLY
    Sallie says

    Thank you for a reminder of Rana’s history, especially how much she suffered that we may never know about. She has a very strong elephant sense of logic of everything, including Right & Wrong, Fair or Unfair. Heartbreaking to think of all those hideous years in captivity, PERFORMING! How she held it together, I cannot make a mental picture of her in any other place on earth, but with all of you at GSE Sanctuary Brazil, who have been so patient and so loving. Rana is a very Lucky Girl, to be with you all, including the other gal elies, under your guidance, as well as the interesting critters who give the gals, much to discuss and learn how to love and share with others, in their community.

  13. REPLY
    Bonnie says

    I’ve saided before and I will say it again you all are amazing People I was reading about Ramba it’s sad and terrible how she was treated actually no Animals should be caged or abused so to all of you at Sanctuary Brazil Thank you for sharing and helping these Elephant’s and don’t ever stop we need more People in this world like you all

  14. REPLY
    Bonnie says

    Keep up the good work Ramba was happy with you all

  15. REPLY
    Debbie Sides says

    She was definitely worth it! So happy she experienced true sanctuary life. We love her and miss her. She is with her herd in the heavens. A true blessing that she spent her final weeks there at ESB in paradise!💚🌈

  16. REPLY
    Kenneth B. Newman says

    I didn’t know the details behind Ramba’s life history, so thank you very much for giving ALL of us a great written tribute to her, and its wonderful to know that she loved her last 10 weeks of life at GSE……NOW lets get the rest of those captive elephants across South America in to GSE……..

  17. REPLY
    Angie Gibson says

    Oh how Rambita holds a special string in my heart❤️ I will never, ever forget that day when she was at the barn and she gazed quite intentionally and directly at Kat filming her —Grandma spoke volumes with her eyes—as if speaking with all of her being of her recent adventures, of getting to taste and languish a while in blissful sanctuary; at the very core of that intense,sweet,emotional moment….. ”Thank you, thank you for each second “ and then she passed . Such a beautiful Soul❤️ So worth all of it— y’all did a truly lovely thing Kat , Scott, GSB team💕🐘💕

  18. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    Perfectly stated!

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