What One Elephant Taught Me About Being Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving-

We’ve all been inundated with elephants in crisis, poaching, ailing in zoos and manipulation to import dozens more.  Many of us spend countless hours working to give back, and in many cases fighting for what is right and just in an often unjust world for animals.  Today, we urge you to take time to think about the success stories. Be thankful for those that have already received life altering sanctuary and the great strides that are being made solely because of the increased awareness and growing team of elephant advocates. For this, we can all be grateful!

When I stop to think about what I’m most grateful for, what quickly jumps to the top of the list are the life’s lessons from the elephants.  Some of these have come from elephants within sanctuary, others from those that passed away before their time and still others are from elephants I’ve never personally met.  They’ve shown me how to live with an open heart, to accept what each day brings and forgive what we can’t change from yesterday. On this day, one of those lessons that rises to the top is how to live with gratitude for the “little things” that are actually more critical than we give credit.  When we stop to listen to a bird singing, or to watch a butterfly, or to smell a flower in bloom, our hearts smile.  This smile is an appreciation simply for what is.

We used to laugh with an elephant named Winkie, who often had a little attention deficit disorder when she was following to a water trough or a special location for dinner. We’d look back to find Winkie facing the wrong way staring off the side of the trail at a rafter of turkeys or a kaleidoscope of butterflies.  We’d ask, “What are you doing?” and she would make her little coo noise, followed by a trunk tap and then continue to follow with her eyes wide with joy.

These moments, although only a few seconds, were anything but little. For Winkie, it seemed to awaken a new level of awareness and reverence for the life around her.  For us, it opened our minds to the full depth of positive impact of sanctuary; it’s not just about the physical and emotional recovery, it’s about a deeper understanding of what it means to truly be alive.  For elephants everywhere, it’s these seemingly simple yet profoundly impactful moments that make us so passionate about offering all elephants a life of sanctuary.

On this day of thanks, take a page out of Winkie’s ‘how to’ and take time to connect to beauty, nature and the sanctuary of the world around us. Smiling hearts can transform the world.  It did for Winkie.

(For years I said that there is no way to have a favorite elephant, but I have to admit that I will always have a special place in my heart for Winkie.  She arrived to sanctuary disconnected from everything around her including herself.  It was a struggle for her at times, as her healing forced her to cope with demons of her past, but the radiance and sensitivity that emerged is something that has made many hearts smile. Sometimes those who face the biggest struggles have the biggest impact on your soul.)


  1. REPLY
    wendy says

    The article you sent today details how the renovations to the house on the property are coming along. (I’m hoping these house renos aren’t your first priority.) I sent a donation for the elephant sanctuary and would like to see how that money is being spent for the elephants, please. Are holding pens being built? Have you rescued any elephants yet? If so – how many rescued so far? If not – when?

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      Hi Wendy,
      Renovations aren’t being done on the house, we were cleaning up 3 years worth of bat guano so the house could be lived in. Just cleaning supplies (which we paid for out of our own pocket) 3 volunteers and a borrowed pressure washer. No money is going into housing, although the house could use it. Without living on the property it would be very difficult to get things done here. Direct oversight is a must. We are waiting (which happens a lot) for internet to be installed at the house, so we can move in. As far as the corrals being built, the Elephant Care Center is going to be the first thing built. We haven’t started construction due to waiting on funds to transfer into Brazil. We had to wait 20 business days, after the end of our IGG campaign, to get the money into our US account. It then takes another few weeks to have the money in hand in Brazil because of the somewhat ridiculous transfer process. We have all the details ready to order our first load of steel, we are just waiting for the funds to show up in the Brazilian account. Once the steel arrives, it will still take about 3-4 months before construction of everything can be completed. We have the funds for the care center, but we still need additional funding for fencing before we will be able to start rescuing elephants, which is why we launched our most recent campaign It takes a lot to create sanctuary, a lot of support and a lot of work, and we still need a bit more in order to bring elephants to Brazil. We continue to pay for Ramba’s care (elephant in Chile) but she cannot be brought here until the facilities are finished.Thank you for your support and we look forward to the day when the first elephant arrives on grounds.

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