Celebrating Bunny
Animal Stories from All-Creatures.org

From The Elephant Sanctuary

May 14, 2009

Bunny has blessed this planet with her presence for fifty-seven years. Her humor and gentleness has touched literally thousands of people. In Evansville, Indiana she was friend to three generations of families that grew up knowing Bunny. Today, Bunny left us to join those who have gone before her. Her passing was beautiful to behold. Caregivers held the space for Bunny to transition in her own time her own way. Being present during an elephant's transition is indescribable, a cherished gift; always a profoundly touching experience. With a caregiver at her side Bunny took two long breaths, closed her eyes and passed. Nameste sweet Bunny. The joy you brought can never be measured; your wisdom always remembered.

Bunny's Bio


Born: 1952 Birthplace: Burma Birth status: wild born • Captured from the wild: 1954 • Life before the Sanctuary: The Mesker Park Zoo • Reason for coming to the Sanctuary: diseased feet and living alone • Moved to The Elephant Sanctuary ~ September 29, 1999

Height: 7' 11" Weight: 7500 lbs. Favorite Food: Oranges

Bunny was born in 1952, captured in the wilds of Asia and transported to America as a young calf. For more than forty years, she lived a mostly solitary life at the small Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville, Indiana. Her lack of species companionship, which is very important to elephants, coupled with her foot and pressure wound problems developed from being confined and on concrete too many years, forced zoo management and the citizens of Evansville to take a good hard look at how much they truly loved their 7,500 pound pachyderm princess.

After months of deliberation, the decision was made to express their community appreciation for Bunny selflessly—by setting her free. She was officially retired and arrived at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee on September 29, 1999 as the Sanctuary’s fifth resident. Within hours, Bunny had met and was instantly adored by all the other elephants, especially Shirley and Jenny. Her first days exploring the habitat were underscored by constant and cheerful trumpeting—a sign that she was more than pleased with her new home and friends. For the first time since her capture from the wild, Bunny slept out under the stars. Today, Bunny’s feet have completely healed thanks to the natural, soft terrain of the pastures and forests the Sanctuary provides. She has also been dubbed the ‘Outdoor Girl,’ a nickname earned by enjoying her freedom to explore so much that it can sometimes be difficult for caregivers to find her when it’s time for her feedings.

Bunny and her fellow herd members were released into the Sanctuary’s newly expanded Asian habitat in 2006. With another 2,000 acres of uncharted territory to explore, this ‘Outdoor Girl’ showed signs of instant approval.

On May 2, 2009 Bunny, our second to the oldest elephant, laid down in one of her favorite areas of the habitat for the final stage of her life. Shirley, her best friend, and Tarra, her little sister kept vigil while Bunny was tended to 24/7 by veterinarians and caregivers. Her process was honored as part of the natural cycle that it is.

Bunny is the first resident of the Sanctuary to die of natural causes; old age, a gift and a phenomenon for any elephant living in captivity. Bunny’s passing is not made easier on her family because she has lived a full life, but we are overjoyed that she spent her golden years in a place that she adored, surrounded, cherished by loving individuals; elephants and humans alike.

Bunny received fluids, pain meds, antibiotics and homeopathic remedies under the authority of her veterinary team.

Her greatest love at the Sanctuary was being outdoors where she chose to be in the final stage of her life, in a beautiful valley beside a babbling brook with a huge blue sky overhead. We honor Bunny’s process.

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