A Boundless Spirit: The Misty Story

***image1***Much has been written and of course, little is truly known about the spiritual life of animals. Many of us have seen how animals who are mistreated and abused keep some kind of spirit alive; there is a light there which blooms with loving-kindness. It is a miraculous thing to wonder how these mistreated animals keep this spirit alive, in an elephant’s case, for decades.

Many of us learned much about spirit from Misty, the most recent arrival at The Elephant Sanctuary. An elephant with a tragic past, a reputation as a killer elephant, it was immediately revealed that she has an unlimited capacity for love, play and affection.

On November 17, 2004, *Misty came to the Sanctuary with Lota, both tuberculosis positive elephants from the notorious Hawthorn herd. Much was known about Lota, in fact she had been for years, an unfortunate poster girl for the plight of captive elephants. Much less was known about Misty, in fact, in preparing background for the *Sanctuary website, very little factual information was available, but more has now been compiled.

***image2***From July 2004 when the contract was signed for the transfer of Lota and Misty to the Sanctuary, unbelievable obstacles were met and overcome including the formation of a rigorous respiratory protection and infection control plan at the insistence of the Tennessee State Vet. There were many days when no one truly believed Lota and Misty would make it to the Sanctuary, and the concern for Lota was great, since she had been TB positive since 1996.

Finally the trailer and Sanctuary co-founder Scott Blais departed Hohenwald for the Hawthorn barn and their progress was documented in detail on the ele-diary. All at once, the huge tractor trailer appeared in the Sanctuary driveway as hundreds of thousands of us watched from all over the world – the door was partially opened and our first sight of these famous ladies was a huge trunk, Misty, amazingly pushing the door fully open and as the ele-diary states:

Misty was first; she was curious, cooperative and quite sweet. She comes with a killer reputation like many elephants that are released to the Sanctuary. We could see at first glance that she is attentive, mischievous, curious and at no time showed any signs of aggression. Misty will be a wonderful addition to the family. She calmly walked from the trailer into the barn, ate a few apples that were left for her and proceeded right outside. She investigated the yard and began grazing.

Then Lota, those of us viewing were shocked at her appearance:

***image4***A few minutes later Lota walked out of the trailer, equally as calm. Her emaciated condition is quite disturbing but she is also attentive and showed no signs of concern or aggression. The two are very compatible, sharing a high level of curiosity. When Lota entered the barn Misty immediately returned from the yard and the two interacted, touching trunks. Within moments Misty discovered the toys strewed about the barn and began to play.

There were many surprises in store for Sanctuary caregivers and supporters. First, was the strong and loving bond between Lota and Misty. The second surprise, was that Misty was truly as Carol Buckley wrote, quite the “silliest elephant on the planet”. Misty was quick to hurl her oversized body into any play activity, and if she slipped in the mud, this was an opportunity for more fun!

The most tragic discovery was that Lota was really in hospice care; her tuberculosis was so advanced that she could never have made a full recovery. Lota passed quietly away in the company of her beloved Misty in the early hours of February 9, 2005. She had less than three months of Sanctuary.

***image3***Since Misty is still in quarantine, she cannot meet or be with the other elephants (or at least in any ways that humans can visibly see or hear!). Much effort is made to keep her entertained and engaged, happily she is right next to the driveway and every Sanctuary vehicle which races by is a source of delight for Misty. Misty and Carol have made a very special bond, when Misty sees Carol walk down the driveway in the morning, Misty does not contain her excitement and love, hurling all 10,200 pounds of her gorgeous self through her yard.

Misty’s boundless love and spirit pours out into the Sanctuary; and even through the tiny window of the ele-cam to all of us. We must, in return, continue to work tirelessly towards the rescue of all those elephants still in chains.


See Personal Dialogues – Interview with Carol Buckley

Also See a similar story- Sanctuary: The Tarra Story

Misty through ele-cam: http://www.tappedintoelephants.com/asp/index.php

*Misty & Lota: http://www.elephants.com/lota/lmstart.htm

*Hawthorn Elephants: http://www.elephants.com/lota/rescueLota.php

by The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee (Ele-diary excerpts, and all photos used with permission of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee)