May 14, 2009
Height: 7' 11"
Bunny was born in 1952, captured in the wilds of Asia and transported to America as a young calf. For more than forty years, she lived a mostly solitary life at the small Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville, Indiana. Her lack of species companionship, which is very important to elephants, coupled with her foot and pressure wound problems developed from being confined and on concrete too many years, forced zoo management and the citizens of Evansville to take a good hard look at how much they truly loved their 7,500 pound pachyderm princess.
After months of deliberation, the decision was made to express their community appreciation for Bunny selflessly—by setting her free. She was officially retired and arrived at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee on September 29, 1999 as the Sanctuary’s fifth resident. Within hours, Bunny had met and was instantly adored by all the other elephants, especially Shirley and Jenny. Her first days exploring the habitat were underscored by constant and cheerful trumpeting—a sign that she was more than pleased with her new home and friends.
For the first time since her capture from the wild, Bunny slept out under the stars.
Today, Bunny’s feet have completely healed thanks to the natural, soft terrain of the pastures and forests the Sanctuary provides. She has also been dubbed the ‘Outdoor Girl,’ a nickname earned by enjoying her freedom to explore so much that it can sometimes be difficult for caregivers to find her when it’s time for her feedings.
Bunny and her fellow herd members were released into the Sanctuary’s newly expanded Asian habitat in 2006. With another 2,000 acres of uncharted territory to explore, this ‘Outdoor Girl’ showed signs of instant approval.
On May 2, 2009 Bunny, our second to the oldest elephant, laid down in one of her favorite areas of the habitat for the final stage of her life. Shirley, her best friend, and Tarra, her little sister kept vigil while Bunny was tended to 24/7 by veterinarians and caregivers. Her process was honored as part of the natural cycle that it is.