I am privileged to call Carol Buckley my friend, and I was also honored to work for several years as the Managing Director of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. After being fired from the Sanctuary in 2010, Carol continues to improve the lives of captive elephants worldwide by founding Elephant Aid International and traveling throughout Asia in her mission of helping one elephant at a time.
Recently a Tennessee judge ruled to deny Carol’s visitation of Tarra, a situation that is made more heartbreaking by the recent death of Tarra’s best friend Bella the dog. I was at the Sanctuary when the two became an internet sensation, everybody wanted their story. But it is Tarra’s story and her story now does not include her lifelong companion, (and, as we who bond with our animal companions feel), Tarra’s mom Carol.
I ache for Tarra, and Carol, and I did not know what to do to really help…until Jeff Masson wrote this brilliant and objective blog on November 14. He writes:
She formed as close a bond with Tarra, as probably any human has ever had, over the 30 years they were together. Last year they were forcibly separated. From reasons I simply cannot fathom, not only was Carol Buckley removed as the CEO of this sanctuary, but she was forbidden to visit her old friend Tarra. I have no way of judging the merit of the case against her, but whatever it was, it makes no sense to deprive two beings as close as Tarra and Carol, of each other’s company. It is an outrage against both of them, and I find it unforgiveable. Because Carol was one of the few people who are aware of the depths of animal suffering.
And Jeffrey Masson should know about the depths of animal suffering. As author of the bestselling books Dogs Never Lie About Love, When Elephants Weep, and The Face on Your Plate, Mr. Masson has exposed millions of readers to the emotional life of animals.
Carol is also one of the few people who are aware of the depths of animal suffering. I watched her for over three years, live, breathe and feel for not only the elephants in her care, but the other elephants still held captive. I watched her navigate the back roads of rural Tennessee, rescuing stray dogs who were dumped by the roadside, and thrown out of cars at fast food restaurants. As a native of Northeastern US I had never seen such callous treatment of animals. One of the happy ending dogs was Riley. Day after day for over a year, I drove to work by a beautiful yellow lab puppy on a short chain. He was one of two dogs I stopped by to visit nearly every day bringing dog toys, but most importantly, company. Carol too, drove by this lab puppy, who had no shelter until the owner was ordered to provide something and even then, it was no more that a wide pipe, barely big enough for the dog to enter, but legal in Tennessee.
Every day, as the puppy grew and grew, Carol would stop by and whenever she saw the dog’s owner would cheerfully say (out of the window of her truck full of rescue dogs), “We would be happy to take him!” One amazing day the dog’s owner finally said, “OK you could probably provide him better care,” and there Riley was, inside the gates and free to run on 2700 acres.
Carol was so brave; I got many phone calls from her as she drove around the counties witnessing animals in deplorable conditions. She was never afraid to address the owners, never threatening, but always showing a true love and respect for the animal.
Tarra needs Carol. The world needs Carol to continue her work here and around the world without the heartache of forced separation from her best friend Tarra.
The Elephant Sanctuary has lost both of its co-founders. Scott Blais left the Sanctuary earlier this year.
It is no longer the miraculous place that is was, but I believe that Carol will continue to work miracles for captive elephants. Why deny Tarra visitation from Carol, when only good will come of it? It is indeed, unforgiveable.
For more information on Carol Buckley and her work, please visit her website at www.carolbuckley.com > More on Elephants & The Elephant Sanctuary from MerlianNews: