This Year we Celebrate The 20th Anniversary
of Sonny the Elephant
One can only imagine the indignities that he, as well as countless others suffered in his quest to remain free and proud. He was sent to a small zoo in Clovis, New Mexico where he stayed and entertained guests until he got big and strong enough to take his perimeter fence apart and escape for a walk through the zoo. This happened several timers and the zoo started looking for another place to send Sonny. Because of his reputation as an untrained rogue bull plus the gouge in his trunk (that was probably the result of the culling) the zoo in New Mexico had no takers for him.
After his third escape and no other zoo’s interest in him, the city council began discussions on euthanizing him. The people of Clovis fought this and got publicity about Sonny. A group from California, “The Hasi Group” took up Sonny’s plight and wrote his story to every zoo and elephant facility. We received that letter and were the only ones to call and inquire about him. We didn’t realize what we were in for until the trailer with Sonny on board arrived. With a hole in the side of it that a bowling ball could fit through! Every now and then Sonny’s tusk would come through making it even larger. Even with our joy to see him finally here and in his new home there was sadness to see this brave facade of a scared and confused young elephant.
Moat: One day Sonny was playing with a new ball in his yard, Oliver huis neighboring steer got excited. Sonny, seeing Oliver jumping around, feared his “toy” might be taken away and ran to protect it. As he reached the edge of the moat, he lost his footing and slipped down the moat. Dazed and confused, not knowing exactly where he way, he stood up. After feeling the earth shake, everyone came running to the compound. The staff coaxed him over the steps designed to get him up and out of the moat if this should ever happen. He tried to climb the first step but felt off balance and stopped. After the staff had exhausted all possible ways to coax him up the steps, Sonny decided to evaluate the situation. He turned his back to the steps , which caused concern to the staff because they thought he was giving up and going to wanted around the moat. But Sonny was just approaching the problem his own way. He backed up to the step, bracing himself by pressing his trunk up against the wall in front of him and proceeded to go up the steps backwards. This almost worked but he ran out of trunk. He realized this wouldn’t work. So he turned around to look at the steps again. At that point, John grabbed his trunk and directed it to the lip at the top step. Sonny then tested it by pulling on it, decided it was secure and pulled himself up the steps and out of the moat. Everyone in the compound, realizing who was coming back up, ran like hell. Sonny slowly walked over and ate his dinner as if nothing had ever happened.
You would rarely catch him lying down to sleep. No matter wat time of the night you stopped in to check on an injured or sick animal, he seemed to know you were coming and would be on his feet, checking on you. But, when it became necessary to camp out in the barn to care for sick or hurt animals, he would have to eventually give in and lay down to sleep. But you never could. His snoring was as loud as he was large, and you could almost envision the barn walls being sucked in and pushed out with every breath.