I remember Pat telling me how dangerous it was to move an elephant. And how she couldn’t sleep and barely ate before an elephant would be arriving at PAWS.
Each time, weeks in advance, Pat would go to where ever the elephant was and work with the caregivers to begin to train the elephant to get into the truck. Very, very slowly. Each elephant had been traumatized enough. She wanted them to know from the beginning of the journey that they were going to a safe place.
I was there when Ruby, an elephant who had resided at the LA Zoo for many painful years, arrived at PAWS. Pat had a huge acacia tree ready for her. Pat told me that acacia trees were one of elephants favorite treats. We all stood back as the doors of the truck opened and Ruby peeked out
In front of her were rivers, forests, and huge expanses of green hills. Ruby waited a moment to survey the landscape of her new home, and then gingerly stepped one foot out a time out of the trailer. Suddenly she realized there was grass under her feet! In a burst of joy, she began to tear it up and stuff it in her mouth.
We were all spellbound! Then Pat began to softly call to her. Pat had this chirp that elephants understood. And lo and behold! Ruby followed Pat into the barn where the acacia tree was. She began to eat it and play with it and eat it and play with it. We all watched in awe.
John Lewis, the director of the LA Zoo and two of the elephant handlers were there to see this. Pat had told him in sharp terms that if he brought a bullhook onto her property, she would use it on him. I watched the as the scene unfolded. I pointed out to John that there were no bullhooks. He just shrugged. It was unbelievable that they refused to believe their own eyes.
But that didn’t matter to Ruby. She was home.