Separated From Her Mother and Family
by Sharon Callahan and Carol Buckley

      Sissy was born in the wilds of Asia in 1962. She was captured and separated from her mother and family at age two. If she had been left in a natural situation, Sissy would have spent her entire life, some 60-70 years, with her mother and female relatives. She would have grown to know and depend upon her aunts, cousins, sisters, and grandmother for guidance and protection. Her role as a sister and mother would have brought her status and responsibility in her family. In her golden years she would have been treated with respect for her knowledge and wisdom. In her final days she would have been protected by those daughters and nieces whom she had nurtured from infancy.

Life at a Zoo in Texas
Instead, Sissy was shipped to America where she became the favorite attraction at Six Flags over Texas Amusement Park petting zoo. She was one of a long line of such attractions at the park. But the practice of separating a baby elephant from her mother and placing her on exhibit for human entertainment ceased at the park in the early 70s. This change in policy coincided with the declaration of the Asian elephant as an endangered species. Records indicate that in December 1969 Sissy was sold to the Zoo in Gainesville, Texas as a replacement for the zoo's previous elephant, Gerry, who had died. Sissy immediately became the focal point of the zoo. In 1981, Sissy's popularity and renown grew, she became an icon and mascot for Cooke County.

Sissy Almost Loses Her Life
In the record flood of 1981, Sissy and many of the Zoo's animal collection were swept from their enclosures. Sissy was presumed dead but when the waters started to recede, she was spotted. Actually it was her trunk that was spotted, wrapped around a tree limb, sticking just above the water line. It would be another 24 hours before the water level dropped enough for Sissy to free herself from the tree that her body and trunk were wrapped around. Sissy suffered long-term emotional trauma from that horrifying accident. Several who were close to her have said that the threat of a pending storm causes Sissy to become petrified with fear. Her phobia of water was so deep that for years Sissy would allow only one keeper to give her a bath.

In 1988, flood waters once again threatened the lives and homes of the zoo's animals. Sissy and many other animals were evacuated. In 1986, Sissy was shipped to the Fort Worth Zoo for breeding. This was the first time since infancy that Sissy would be with others of her own kind. Sadly her socialization skills were not developed, making interaction with the other elephants difficult for her. Additionally, Sissy was now separated from her longtime keeper and was now expected to respond to strangers. She reportedly showed signs of aggression toward her new keepers and did not relate well with the other elephants. Sissy was miserable. During her two-year stay at the Fort Worth Zoo, she was never successfully bred and was returned to the Zoo in Texas.

A Tragic Incident
Nearly 10 years later another tragic accident occurred. With no witnesses to explain what had happened, one of Sissy's keepers was killed while in her enclosure. Sissy was labeled a killer and she was permanently removed from her home of 28 years. This was the first time the Elephant Sanctuary offered to take Sissy. Knowing her history and convinced she would thrive at the Sanctuary, the offer was made to give Sissy a home.

Sissy Receives a Terrible Beating
Before coming to the Elephant Sanctuary, however Sissy spent a year at the Houston Zoo and then another year at a Zoo in El Paso. Her keepers found her to be antisocial and somewhat aggressive. At one point Sissy was violently abused by her keepers. Their handling of her videotaped for in-house purposes but the film eventually found its way to the media. The video tape showed her handlers hitting Sissy who was tightly chained, repeatedly on the back of her legs with wooden bats and/or ax handles during a violent beating session that lasted several hours. If Sissy did not respond to a given command within a few seconds, the beating began again. Twice she was hit so hard her legs buckled and she fell to the ground.

The citizens of El Paso were outraged by the incident. It was then decided to send Sissy to the Elephant Sanctuary. Carol Buckley, founder and director of the Sanctuary, went to El Paso to meet this notorious elephant. What she found was a severely underweight, depressed animal. An investigation by the El Paso Police Department into the beating of Sissy as a violation of the Texas Cruelty to Animals Act is ongoing.

January 26, 2000 - Sissy Arrives At the Elephant Sanctuary
Sissy arrived at her new and permanent home at the Elephant Sanctuary on January 26, 2000. She stepped tentatively from the trailer but showed no aggression. She was taken into the Sanctuary's new big beautiful barn to get used to things. After a few hours Barbara (the elephant) was allowed into Sissy's stall. Sissy kept her back turned to Barbara for a while, but soon Barbara walked beside Sissy and touched Sissy on the face with her trunk. Sometime later Tarra, Jenny and Shirley and Bunny were let into the barn. When they saw Sissy they trumpeted excitedly. Soon they were touching and caressing Sissy with their trunks.

Flower Essence Treatment
On her arrival, Sissy was given Anaflora Return to Joy flower essence formula to assist her to release all of the trauma and abuse of the past and to come into joyful acceptance of her beautiful new home and friends. She was also given Anaflora Freedom Formula to help her overcome her fear of leaving the barn and roaming freely throughout the Sanctuary grounds.

February 12, 2000 -Sissy Leaves the Barn
Sissy left the barn on her own and spent the afternoon basking in the sun along side her friend Tarra. She plays constantly with a tire she was given as a toy and Carol says she wears a "cartoon smile" on her face.

February 18, 2000
Sissy is now moving freely throughout the barn and has befriended Sammie, one of the Sanctuary dogs. She allows Sammie to lick her trunk and turns her rear end to him and offers her foot in a sign of friendship.

March 2000
Carol describes Sissy as "a new girl." She has shed her fears and is enjoying the good life. She is calm and content and has not exhibited the slightest aggression towards anyone. She explores the Sanctuary grounds with the other elephants and returns to the barn with the others in the evening.

April 2000
Sissy and Barbara have become good friends. They stand closely together while they eat and often share shredded hay. 

September 2000
Sissy made incredible improvements. She is self confidence and is much less timid with the other elephants and is more willing to try new things on her own. Her joy is obvious to all. She ventured on her own into the back pasture which she was fearful of before. She is sleeping well and lying down to rest.

February 2001
Carol became concerned about Sissy's worry for the other elephants. Sissy is now so comfortable with herself that her attention is going to the other elephants and she often worries for them. When she worries she tends to get loose stools and mild digestive problems.

To alleviate this, we have given Sissy an Anaflora flower essence formula containing: Lavender, Milkweed, Mountain Pride, Columbine, Red Chestnut and Holy Water. She is also being treated with the best in holistic veterinary care, lots of vitamins and supplements and lots, and lots of love from everyone.

Telepathic Communication
In communication with Sissy over the last year I have learned from her that she was terribly sleep deprived for most of her captive life because of being kept in very small quarters and because she was fearful felt a need to be hyper-vigilant. She communicated that she often felt that she would go crazy from lack of sleep. She revealed that she had been beaten many times and that she suffered for decades with terribly sore feet. She also had parasitic condition that made her stomach hurt terribly. She said that she was very sorry if she ever hurt anyone. She said that even though she was often hurt and misunderstood by the people who had charge over her and even though she tried her best to communicate to them that she felt sick and tired and that her feet and stomach hurt terribly she would not have hurt anyone purposely. She had no distinct memory of the incident in which her keeper was found dead in her stall. She did remember, however that he often got drunk and frightened and hurt her.

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