The Humane Society of the United States today announced with great sadness the death of Babe, Black Beauty Ranch’s resident African elephant, who died Monday of heart failure. Her body was simply unable to sustain her any longer on account of years of abuse and neglect before coming to the sanctuary. She passed surrounded by the staff and volunteers who loved her most.
I met Babe for the first time last year at a volunteer orientation I attended with friends. We met so many amazing animals that day it’s almost hard to remember them all. But Babe stood out. Sweet may seem like an odd term for an elephant but it is truly accurate for her. I remember how gentle she was when she reached out and took a carrot from my hand. She seemed to always be happy and she loved everyone she met. She even loved Omar, a camel cast off as a sick baby from a Christmas pageant years ago who lived in the enclosure next to her. Babe would sometimes reach over the fence and wrap her trunk lovingly around Omar’s neck. Other times she and Omar would just graze quietly together, each on their own side of the fence, clearly enjoying each other’s company.
Babe was born in 1984 in South Africa and captured and imported to the United States when she was only two. She spent the next ten years performing in the circus, during which time she suffered serious injuries to her legs and feet. She came to Black Beauty Ranch in 1996 when she could no longer perform. Her right front ankle had been broken and the bone fused and her back leg was badly injured, likely as a result of being chained. But even with the help of her devoted caretakers, the best veterinary care, a nutritious diet, exercise, and enrichment, it was nearly a decade before she could put weight on her rear leg without pain. Even then the damage had been done and she was left with chronic disabilities that twice resulted in halting preparations for considered moves – in 2006 to the PAWS Ark 2000 sanctuary in northern California and again in 2009 to the elephant sanctuary in Tennessee.
Stacy Smith, a long-time Black Beauty Ranch volunteer and one of Babe’s special friends had this to say “Knowing Babe made us all special. I believe even those who only knew her from their visits to the Open House left feeling that way…you just knew you were in the presence of an amazing creature. She was extraordinarily gentle and sweet from the first time I met her over 14 years ago. Being near her was as close to a magical experience as I will ever have…I already miss her sounds, her smell, the soft touch of her trunk as she took a piece of watermelon, and the peaceful, contented way she looked at me when she took it. I can’t fathom what cruelty she endured before she came to the ranch, but I do know that she never looked back and was happy and much loved during her years there. My most heartfelt sympathies go out to her family at the ranch. There is a huge, empty place in our hearts today.”
Black Beauty Ranch was established by Cleveland Armory and encompasses 1,300 acres in Murchison, Texas. But except for invitation-only open houses held twice a year, Black Beauty Ranch is closed to the public. Amory’s vision was that it “would be a place where animals are looked after, not looked at.“
For more info: Black Beauty Ranch and a burro named Friendly, Animals Find Quiet Refuge on Cleveland Armory’s Black Beauty Ranch, the HSUS Announcement
Did you know Babe? Leave a comment below and tell us what you remember about her.
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