Date of Birth: 1966
Place of Birth: Swaziland, Africa
Where Now: PAWS Wildlife Sanctuary
Loxodonta Africana For photos and more information on how to Adopt Lulu see: PAWS
If ever an elephant was bound to be affected by a life constrained in captivity it is our elephant Lulu. From the time she was born in Swaziland, Africa until the time she was rescued by PAWS (co-founder Ed Stewart & the late Pat Derby) this elephant was dominated; by humans, by circumstances, and even by another elephant. And her rescue came not a moment too soon, because even as she arrived at the PAWS sanctuary Lulu was clearly acting out and coming to her wits end.
For an elephant it can only be explained like this. There is only so much a sensitive soul (our elephants) can take when they are torn from their families (their elephant herd), removed from their natural environment (the wild ) and planted on a constricted fragment of concrete slab (that was the norm for zoos).
But that fragment of concrete was nothing, if not insignificant, compared to how shattered Lulu’s soul would become over the years she spent at that zoo.
It was just 2 April 1968 when as a baby elephant Lulu was purchased (for $4,000.) and had arrived at the Fleishhaker Zoo in San Francisco, CA. (renamed the San Francisco Zoological Gardens in 1941) It was barely 24 hours after April Fool’s Day but this was no joke. This was to become a little elephant’s life. (Did capitalism blur the sensitivities of those involved or did humans, the experts, just not fathom the long term effects of captivity on these mammals? But they were the experts. For all of those years they should have known.)
So little Lulu began her life (really, she had no life) and for the next 37 years as she grew into an adult elephant she came to realize (but that happened pretty quickly after she arrived) that she had no way out.
There were no familiar faces of her elephant family. All she had now was a companion elephant named Maybelle (in fact that is why Lulu was obtained in the first place. To replace another elephant, Judy, who had recently died.)
But Maybelle was overly bossy and it seems, overtook our elephant Lulu’s life. If not for Maybelle it was Lulu’s keeper who was telling her what to do. But what can an elephant, lost in a sea of concrete and not a very big ocean at that, really decide to do to try to become an elephant again? It was a hopeless situation.
To be continued: see Lulu : Elephant of the Week at PAWS – Performing Animal Welfare Society : Loxodonta Africana : Part 2
For information on how to Adopt Lulu see: PAWS
See: It Had to Begin With Elephants PAWSWEB’s Tribute to Pat Derby
credit: public domain drawing of elephant