Imagine spending over 50 years in captivity without any companions or family members. You’d likely consider it torturous, yes? Well, this was the reality for Ramba the Asian elephant. Mid-October, the pachyderm made the 2,551-mile journey to a sanctuary in Brazil, following decades of loneliness in Chile.
On October 16th, Ramba left Santiago, Chile, accompanied by elephant welfare experts and several dedicated volunteers. After flying over the Andes mountains, she landed safely in Campinas, Brazil. As GoodNewsNetwork reports, the next leg of the journey required she travel for 3 days before reaching the 2,800-acre Elephant Sanctuary Brazil. The safe haven is located in the Brazilian municipality of Chapada dos Guimarães.
Reportedly, the effort to free Ramba began over 7 years ago. In 2012, the Chilean animal welfare group Ecopolis contacted the Global Elephant Sanctuary (GSE) to help save Ramba from abusive owners.
Ecopolis successfully petitioned the Chilean government to confiscate Ramba, effectively ending the practice of performing circus elephants throughout Chile. However, because there wasn’t an elephant sanctuary for Ramba, she was transported to a roadside zoo in Chile as a temporary facility pending the eventual relocation to Elephant Sanctuary Brazil.
South America isn’t the only country struggling to find progressive efforts for elephant care. Of the 6,000 captive elephants on Earth, fewer than 250 have been offered life in sanctuaries.
“We know that sanctuary life can make a profound difference to the health and well-being of captive elephants,” explained GSE president Scott Blais. “Our objective is to develop an international collaboration to ensure a safe, secure and humane future for captive elephants through the creation of spacious, holistic, natural habitat elephant sanctuaries.”
For decades, Ramba lived alone. When she enters the sanctuary, she will live with three other elephants: Rana, Guida, and Maia. Rana arrived at the sanctuary last December after years in isolation. Guida and Maia both arrived in October 2016. The pair was confiscated from the circus and lived for 5 years in chains on a private farm waiting for sanctuary.
After years of struggle, Ramba’s transportation permits have been approved. It took 7 years and hundreds of hours by devoted activists and wildlife experts, but the elephant will soon live in peace with her herd — free from her former life spent in chains.
“Ramba needs a quiet place, one where she feels safe and is not on display, where she is surrounded by others of her kind who truly understand her and can help her to open her heart fully—she needs sanctuary,” says Blais.
IMAGE CREDIT: the Global Sanctuary for Elephants