R.I.P lieve Pelusa en Ruperta.......we zullen jullie nooit vergeten
It is with great sadness that we share with you that sweet Pelusa has passed away. For those who don't follow us on FB or our blogs, this may come as a surprise and a shock. With all of our planning and preparations that had been focused on Pelusa's arrival, it's still difficult to fully accept this heartbreaking reality. During the past eight weeks, through Suz's nurturing and loving care, Pelusa's physical and emotional state were improving. She put on over 500 lbs, she ventured into the yard behind her barn that she had never been to, she was bold, spunky and more engaged and active than we had ever seen her. This shift allowed many of us to let our guard down and open our hearts more to the possibility that indeed she would come home to sanctuary.
Then suddenly her health declined dramatically over a couple of days and Suz found her lying down awkwardly in her habitat when she came in for work in the morning (Pelusa hadn't laid down in two years when the zoo had to assist in lifting her.) Scott got on a plane and arrived at the zoo, only to be faced with the reality that Pelusa seemed to have been done with fighting, she simply didn't have anything left to give. She had decided it was time for her journey to come to an end and for all of us to accept and respect that decision.
We have set up a memorial page for Pelusa that provides more details, shares her memorial trees and also talks about her life and the impact she had on those who never before had stopped to think of their role in her suffering and her life in captivity. Please stop by her memorial page to leave a comment, (at the bottom of the page) and share your emotions so others years from now may know how truly special Pelusa was.
Pelusa- Her Legacy
Just last month we held a fundraiser to build a jacuzzi and medical center that would allow us to take the best care possible of Pelusa, due to her significant health issues. While Pelusa will never benefit from these items, we intend to move forward with their creation in her honor. Construction will soon begin on Pelusa's Medical Center and our first chemistry blood machine has already arrived at the sanctuary. With the nearest laboratory being three hours away and not receiving blood results for at least 24-hours, this equipment is a necessity in any emergency. The jacuzzi will also be built, just not with the same urgency. The physical impact captivity has on elephants is substantial; there is no doubt all of her items will benefit many elephants that find sanctuary in the future. Pelu was the impetus, but all will prosper from her infinite blessings.
Just a couple of days after Pelusa's passing, we received more heart-wrenching news, Ruperta the elephant in Venezuela who gained media attention when photos of her emaciated body made headlines last year, had also passed away.
The zoo had unfortunately never accepted offers of help, money, food or sanctuary from the outside world. For a very short time we had contacts at the zoo, but with changes in management, they disappeared and so did any direct knowledge of her condition. We would hear something from time to time, receive photos, but the last two months it was relatively impossible to learn anything, which we took as a bad sign, but there was no way through the political and social barriers. Then we received word out of Mexico that she had died of 'natural causes'. Although there is part of us that knows we can't save them all, it doesn't hurt any less to know another elephant died without knowing sanctuary only because of the selfish nature of man.
This week we will plant a memorial tree for Ruperta next to Pelusa's pata-de-elefante tree. Although we weren't involved in her care as we were with Pelusa, we still hoped against all odds that her zoo or the government would wake up to offering her a happy future with other elephants. We feel she should have her own place with her sisters and us in sanctuary.
While in this moment it's hard to think about anything but Pelusa and Ruperta and adjusting to the reality that they'll never come to Brazil, there are many other elephants waiting for their chance at sanctuary. Many Argentinians are already reminding us that there are nine more elephants there that they don't want to suffer the same fate as Pelusa.
There are several facilities we continue to work with in Argentina, some we can talk about, others we cannot. Right now we are trying to arrange for someone to go to the Mendoza Zoo to teach their staff the positive reinforcement training they will need in order to obtain the necessary testing for import into Brazil. If you're wondering about Ramba in Chile, she is still scheduled to be our next rescue. We are still struggling with getting CITES permits approved in a reasonable timeframe in Brazil. Luckily the Chilean government is ready to expedite the process once it gets through the Brazilian bureaucratic nightmare. We all know that bureaucracy should play no part in delaying the passage to sanctuary, but it's the reality before us and one we are dedicated to resolving as efficiently as possible.
We would like to extend our most heartfelt thank you to everyone that became a part of Pelusa's life over the past months. Although this isn't the 'ending' we had hoped for, there is no doubt that Pelusa felt an outpouring of love she had never known from people around the world who loved and cared for her simply because of who she was- which was spectacular, strong, regal, unsure yet beautiful. She knew she was loved and that she matter. Thank you