Story by Ietje
This is about Limba, a wild-caught female Asian elephant. Limba cannot be saved anymore, but because of her I will help save the next elephant. This 50-year old elephant of Bowmanville Zoo, Canada, was euthanised by her owners in December 2013. She was worn out and had suffered long-time from debilitating foot disease like so many captive elephants. But suddenly her health declined rapidly because of something like a cancer, on which her owners decided to put her down. But not after forcing the weakened animal to march the Bowmanville Santa Claus Parade in the freezing weather some 2 weeks prior to her death.
Limba led the typical cruel and deprived life of a captive elephant, growing old in slavery, sold on from one facility to the next, torn away from whatever bond she had been able to make, until in the end she was unable to bond with other elephants. Though her owner claimed he saved her, she wasted away in solitude, earning her owners a profit by being shipped around to fairs, parades and weddings.
I only heard about Limba a year before she died. From far-away Holland I tried my best for her, petitioning and whatever, joining the ranks of thousands of Limba-friends, including several celebrities. It was then that I truly understood the plight of captive elephants. They are hardly protected by law (like many animals), and whatever laws there are, are often feebly enforced. Basically, if you buy an elephant, you can do with the animal whatever you like, like Mr. Liebel does with poor Nosey in America to this day.
Owners just won’t let go. The more they are pressed to give the animal up, the more they adamantly refuse. They seem to have fused that big animal together with their big ego, or feel they gain importance by (cruelly) dominating the biggest animal on earth. Whatever the reason, the outcome is they keep on to “their” elephant no matter what. Regardless of speeding her way to death, like Limba’s owner did. It pains me that even in death Limba’s body is still in prison, as it lies buried in the stone-cold earth of Bowmanville Zoo. Tears me up to this day.
Limba was the first elephant who made me lose sleep. Her plight broke my heart and enraged me at the same time. When I saw a picture of her, standing depressed in a freezing rain at some fair, I had the wish to lift her through the screen and warm her in my arms – silly idea. For the first time I understood militant animal activists; I dreamt of ramming down the zoo gate with a truck, loading her on and… and what?… go where?
Limba seemed to have no light left in her eyes, as if her soul had gone beyond reach and only her body walked around like a robot. But she was no robot, she suffered day after day… much like poor Lucy in Edmonton, Canada, still does.
I must add that Limba was dearly loved by many, including her personal trainer, but what good did that do her? They all loved her to death…
Her suffering opened my eyes to the cruel plight of captive elephants, and I will never abandon them, praying & protesting, advocating & donating. Among many things I currently support the building of Elephant Haven, the first sanctuary in Europe, in the south of France and the building of your sanctuary in Brazil.
Limba did not get to sanctuary in this life, but I pray and believe she is delivered in the safety of the heavens.
Dear Limba, I pray the Lord will keep you. That you may roam the heavenly jungles, re-united with your mother and your herd. (I actually imagine her starting out as the infant she was when she was stolen, running up to her mother. “Mammie! Where were you, mammie? I was so afraid. And so alone. For so long! But now I am back with you.” And her mother’s trunk envelops her, gathering her daughter under her chin.)
May you heal from all hurts, Limba, meet all of your friends, and grow into the elephant you were meant to be. God bless.