March 12, 2013

This week we are remembering Delhi, who passed away on March 11, 2008, after nearly five years in Santuary.  Delhi was a pioneer of sorts, and her life story and journey to Sanctuary have offered invaluable lessons to the elephant rights movement.

In 1974, the Hamid Morton Circus sold a 28-year-old Asian elephant named Delhi to the Hawthorn Corporation.  Delhi was captured in India while still very young and sold into the circus industry in the U.S.  As part of the Hawthorn Herd, Delhi was leased to various traveling circuses criss-crossing the country.  When she wasn’t on the road, she was chained in a windowless barn along with the rest of the herd.  This was Delhi’s life for nearly three decades. 

As with many captive elephants, Delhi was plagued by chronic health problems – especially regarding her feet.  In 2002, a Hawthorn animal handler soaked Delhi’s feet in formaldehyde.  The chemical burns inflicted from this “treatment” pained Delhi for the rest of her life.   Because of this and other documented incidents, the USDA made the landmark decision to confiscate Delhi in 2003.  She was sent to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.  Delhi’s treatment sparked a deeper investigation by the USDA that led to the release of the entire Hawthorn herd a few years later.  Delhi arrived at The Sanctuary with an irreversible bone infection in her toes, and Sanctuary staff knew their job was to make Delhi’s remaining time as comfortable as possible.  Delhi also had to remain in quarantine for a period of eight months due to the presence of TB in the Hawthorn herd.  She was pampered by caregivers and enjoyed regular naps in her yard.  When Delhi was released from quarantine, she never looked back.  Delhi enjoyed a reunion with Misty when the latter arrived at Sanctuary in 2006, and the two were inseparable until Delhi’s passing.

Delhi was the first elephant confiscated by the USDA due to inhumane treatment, and she was the first of the eleven Hawthorn elephants to make the journey to Sanctuary.   Through her life story, Delhi became a symbol for the movement to provide better care for captive elephants.  Delhi is gone, but her legacy’s reach is unending.  

Delhi enjoys a foot soak; Delhi, Winkie, Misty
                        Delhi enjoying a foot soak                                                       Delhi, Winkie, & Misty

You can visit Delhi’s memorial page to see how you can contribute the happiness of Delhi’s sisters in her honor.


From the Q-Barn:

The Q-Barn Girls had a special visit this past week from Gail Laule, Active Environments Consultant.  Using Protected Contact management techniques, AE is helping to train the Girls in behaviors necessary for medical tests and treatment.   Frieda is learning to present her ever problematic feet and ankles in a way they can be radiographed (similar to an x-ray).  The other girls are learning behaviors that will allow for easier medication application, required blood testing, and other routine procedures essential to their health.  Caregiver Kayleigh had this observation, “All the girls are moving along really well with training, and it is really fascinating to see them voluntarily participating in their own health care through positive reinforcement.”

Below, you can see Minnie presenting her foot for inspection:

Minnie presents her foot for inspection

From the Asia Barn: Our Elecams recently found Winkie entertaining herself by the pond. See for yourself!

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