Feel like a change of scene? We suggest you head for Bussière-Galant in the Limousin. There, together with Gandhi, you will get the chance to meet Delhi. You might suddenly feel a little lost in time and space but… don’t worry, we will explain everything to you… and eventually it will all make sense (as always with Equestrio Foundation!).
Delhi: a new resident at Elephant Haven
About 3 years after opening, Elephant Haven has welcomed its second resident, Delhi. Last August, the 39-year-old elephant joined her new companion Gandhi at the first European sanctuary created to take care of pachyderms retired from circuses and zoos. It seems like Bussière-Galant is definitely set to become “the place to be” for a golden age worthy of the name…
From Vietnam to Czech Republic
Delhi is a female elephant born in Vietnam who has spent her whole life in exile. At the age of 3, she was transferred from the wild to Usti Nad Labem Zoo in the Czech Republic, where she has lived ever since.
In 2018, her only fellow elephant in the zoo passed away and this death considerably impaired her living conditions. Indeed, just like human beings, elephants are, “by nature, social animals”. They do not cope well with being alone. Faced with this trying situation for Delhi, the Usti Nad Labem Zoo managers, animal keepers and city officials set themselves the job of finding her a new home. No, better than that, a true haven of peace! A taste of paradise for a new life, created by Belgian animal caretakers Sofie Goetghebeur and Tony Verhulst, where she will be able to fully enjoy her retirement while reconnecting with fellow elephants, starting with Gandhi, the very first resident who joined the centre in October 2021.
From the zoo to Elephant Haven: a path paved by great team effort
The transfer for Delhi to Elephant Haven was made possible thanks to a harmonious and close-knit collaboration between the Usti Nad Labem zoo and the Limousin teams – between people who all strive towards the well-being of the animals in their care. This cooperation was paramount to the success of the operation as you can easily imagine that moving a 2-ton elephant to a new country is definitely not something you can improvise!
The big move
The first step was for the teams to get to know each other and confirm the match! Of course, the Elephant Haven team paid several visits onsite to Delhi beforehand in order to learn more about her habits and care needs. The director and one of the elephant’s keepers also came to the sanctuary to validate that it was adequately suited to the well-being of their precious Delhi. Approved, without reservation!
Once the introductions and formalities over, it was time for the serious stuff to get going: the big departure. Few boxes but plenty of hay, and 1500 km in 30 hours with regular stops for feeding and to give the brave traveler a break.
And at the end, finally, the arrival and the precious “first moments”: the glimpse of her new home, the unknown sensations, the encounter with the rest of the Elephant Haven team…and, above all, the very first contact with the one who will be her friend for the rest of her life…At first oscillating between uncertainty and curiosity, Gandhi finally got closer to the newcomer with whom she will now have to share her space and the caretakers’ attentions. A moment loaded with emotion for everyone: “Suddenly, they got closer and started to touch each other gently. Finally, their trunks intertwined.”
Support elephants with us
It is to experience the sheer magic of these genuine moments that Sofie, Tony and their team do their utmost every day to keep the sanctuary running. It is to help them, in our own way, that we’ve supported the centre since its opening and renewed our funding in 2022. To make trunks reunite, hearts beat and lives light up.
If you too love elephants, nature, beautiful stories… and the Limousin? Make a donation! Take action for Gandhi, for Delhi and for the future residents who will finally get a chance, thanks to your help, to reconnect with freedom… 🐘