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Babe, Forever In Our Hearts

A beloved African elephant sanctuary resident dies

The Humane Society of the United States / The Fund for Animals


"Almost from the beginning, Babe, of all our animals, was the only one given the run of the Ranch. Many times watching Babe, I have the feeling she not only has the run of the Ranch, she also runs the Ranch.” Ranch of Dreams, Cleveland Amory, founder, Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch

Amory wrote this description of Babe, a very special African elephant resident of the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, just a year after she arrived at the sanctuary in 1996. With an unassuming, lovable personality, it didn’t take her long to claim his heart and the hearts of all who met her.

Read the Groupcard signed for Babe »

That never changed throughout the years—she reveled in and relied on the love of her devoted caregivers, the caring staff, the selfless volunteers. And that’s how she died Monday of heart failure associated with her chronic condition, surrounded by those who loved her most. Her body was unable to sustain her any longer on account of years of abuse and neglect before coming to the sanctuary.

Goodbye, Babe

Words can't fully express our sorrow at losing this beloved and magnificent animal. Despite a tragic beginning—witnessing her family shot around her by misguided park officials in South Africa, then being crated and shipped by boat from Africa to the United States to be used in entertainment—she emerged in Amory’s words "full of spirit and mischief and affection for all creatures, animal and human."

While the wilds of Africa always should have been her home, Babe lived a restful and full life at the sanctuary, where she was brought after being discarded by a traveling circus.

During her 14 years at the sanctuary, her environment was customized to meet her needs, and she received supportive medical care and soothing therapies. Attention was paid to creative rehabilitative activities—such as an ingenious yet simple feeding bucket that allowed her to use her trunk as she would in the wild.

For years, the staff worked to manage her severe leg and foot injuries and to mitigate their effect on her. Three times a day, her caregiver cleansed and soothed them. She was likely injured on the boat trip from Africa and made worse by performing, and never being treated until she arrived at the ranch.

She bonded and played with the other animals—like Omar, a camel rescued from a life of parades, and Friendly and Scar, two long-time burro residents who were among thousands we rescued from being rounded up and killed by federal agents.

Babe could finally put the trauma of her capture and her circus life behind her—whether she was getting necessary veterinary care, taking a dip in her swimming pool, or munching on the daily watermelon she adored.

"And so I have nothing to fear; and here my story ends. My troubles are all over, and I am at home." Black Beauty, Anna Sewell

In her last days, we never left her side. As always, our priority was to make sure she was as comfortable as possible. A softy for her treats, Babe was indulged her with her favorites, making for a contented elephant.

If it was within our power, there wasn't anything we wouldn't do for her, ever. Such was her grip on us.

Babe, we love you and will miss you greatly. May your heaven be beautiful, wide open lands where you live wild and free and in the company of your own magnificent kind.

Share in these memories from sanctuary staff and volunteers »

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