June 7, 2013

#BedtimeStory with...Lucy Liberte!

Once Upon A Time...

A sweet elephant named @LucyLiberte lay asleep in her cold cage-barn at a Canadian zoo, dreaming of the day she would be free to move to a warm climate where she would have friends.

In her dream, Lucy wandered through a forest on a bright, sunny day. She delighted at the feel of lush grass beneath her sore feet, and brushed her face against tree branches filled with thick leaves, something she didn't have in captivity. The sunshine on her back warmed her, and seemed to soothe her aching, arthritic bones. "If only I had friends, then my life would be perfect," she said to herself. Lucy was used to talking to herself because at the zoo she wasn't given any friends, and the humans were often too busy to socialize with her for very long.

As she walked along, breathing in the sweet fragrance of Freedom! she saw a monkey in a tree. “I'm finally free from captivity after 35 years," she told the monkey. "Will you be my friend?”

The monkey gazed down at Lucy, hanging from a branch by his tail. “You're too big and can't swing from trees like me. Besides, I have lots of friends. I don't need one more.” 

Sad, but accustomed to disappointment, Lucy continued to walk through the forest, enjoying her Freedom! when she next met a rabbit. "I've spent most of my life wishing for someone to play with," she told the rabbit. "Would you be my friend?"

“Sorry," said the rabbit. "I have a lot of friends, so I don't need you. Besides, you are too big to play in my burrow.”

"It must be nice to have so many friends you don't need one more," Lucy said to herself. She came to a pond where she drank deeply, enjoying the taste of Freedom! When she heard low, throaty croaking, she spied a frog sitting on a nearby rock “You have a lovely voice," she told him. "I would enjoy hearing you sing every night. Will you be my friend?”

“I have loads of toads for friends," said the frog. "Plus, you're too big to play leap-frog with me.”

Fighting tears, Lucy said, "I spent my whole life in captivity, mostly alone. Now I'm Free!, but I'm still lonely. I don't understand. What is it about being big that makes me unacceptable to be someone's friend?"

Suddenly, Lucy saw all the animals in the forest running for their lives. She stopped a tiger to ask, "What is everyone afraid of?"

“There is a human in the forest," said @TonyTiger2000. "He’s setting fire to the trees.”

Watching the animals run with terror, Lucy wondered what she could do to stop the human. Finally, she walked up behind the man and said, “Please, mister. Do not burn down this forest. You will kill the animals.”

“This is a controlled burn,” the man said without turning around. "We are burning only to stimulate new growth. No harm will come to the animals." Then he turned and looked at her with surprise. "You're a talking elephant!"

"Well..." said Lucy, not knowing how else to respond.

The man said, "You could be famous. Not famous like Reality TV people. Famous like..." He named several people Lucy didn't know because she had lived whole her life in a zoo and never had a television in her barn.

"I don't care about being famous." Lucy told him. "I've been held captive all my life. Now I'm free, but no one wants to be my friend because I'm... plus size. Freedom! is wonderful, but with no one to share it with, I may as well be back in my cold cage-barn. I just want a friend."

The man gazed into Lucy's liquid brown eyes, and sighed. "I understand. I have all the money in the world, but I can't trust people because they want my money and I don't know who my friends really are." He stroked Lucy's cheek. "I will be your friend. Come home with me. I have a huge house with lots of space and a giant swimming pool. Together we will be each others best friend."

At that moment a noise woke Lucy. Finding herself still alone and held captive in her cold cage-barn where she was destined to live out her days, she wept. Her dream had seemed so real! But it wasn't.

Then she heard someone say, "I have all the money in the world. I can buy anything I want, and I want to buy Lucy."

With surprise Lucy saw the man in her dream standing on the other side of her cage. Was she still dreaming? Could this be real?

With tears of joy, Lucy watched the zookeeper accept a wad of cash, then open her cage. She rushed to the man who hugged her tight, then took her home. There Lucy saw several other elephants, and a tiger named Tony who joyfully greeted her, and welcomed her to their family.

And so Lucy lived happily ever after with the man of her dreams.

Sadly, tonight my story is truly make-believe, because our friend, @LucyLiberte continues to be held captive by a zoo that isn't listening to experts who say she needs to be relocated to a warmer climate where she can socialize with other elephants, and become healthy again.

Back on March 10, 2013 we had a TWEETSTORM in Lucy's honor. Maybe we can stir up another storm and get the attention of the right hoomans who can get Lucy released into one of the sanctuaries who have invited her to live with them.

Below is Lucy's profile, and at the bottom is a button to click to visit her website. There is also a button to click to visit Lucy's beloved @TonyTiger2000 who is also being held captive in a horrible Louisiana road side attraction of all places!


Name: Lucy
Age: 35
Genus: Elephant
Species: Asian
Years of Service: 33
Current Employer: Valley Zoo/City of Edmonton

Lucy, a beautiful Asian elephant, arrived at the Valley Zoo on May 19, 1977. She came to Edmonton from the Pinnewala Orphanage in Sri Lanka. Since there were no records of her birth it was estimated that she was approximately two years of age – so Lucy is 35 now! Lucy lived alone at the zoo for 12 years. Then Samantha, a female African elephant, was brought to the zoo to keep Lucy company. In 2007, Samantha was sent to the North Carolina Zoo on a long-term breeding loan and Lucy was left alone again.
Lucy's life in Edmonton does not even compare with what her life could be if she was moved to a sanctuary. Currently, she lives a very solitary life with only human contact during “working hours”. Female elephants are highly social and suffer greatly when kept in isolation. Edmonton's freezing winter weather and the zoo's policy of locking Lucy indoors when the zoo is closed means that Lucy spends the majority of her time in a small barn. When she is allowed outside, she is restricted to an enclosure that is less than an acre in size. Lucy exhibits signs of mental distress and has health issues—including upper respiratory problems, arthritis, obesity, and chronic foot ailments —attributable to substandard and inadequate conditions at the Valley Zoo and further aggravated by the region's frigid climate.

The zoo’s management says it makes its decisions based on science, not emotion, yet if they were truly looking at the science, Lucy would have been moved with the first offer of retirement by The Elephant Sanctuary or PAWS. The Valley Zoo has repeatedly said that Lucy is too sick to be moved. Yet, at the same time, they post documents on their website saying she is doing quite well. The Zoo has refused an external panel of veterinary experts to examine her as they state it would be stressful for her and stress exacerbates her condition, yet the zoo allows school children in her enclosure.

We believe that Lucy's handlers at the Valley Zoo love her dearly and recognize that letting her go would be difficult for them. In kind, we hope that as a result of this love they can also acknowledge that Lucy’s life would be so much better at a sanctuary. The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee has agreed to take Lucy as has PAWS Ark 2000 Sanctuary in California.


Don't Mess Wif Me!