Elephant of the Week or Elephants to Adopt / Foster / Sponsor

Gypsy : Elephant of the Week at PAWS – Performing Animal Welfare Society : Elephas Maximus

Name: Gypsy

Date of Birth: 1967

Gender: Female

Where Now: PAWS Wildlife Sanctuary

Elephas Maximus    For more information and Videos of Gypsy that you will love see them at: PAWS


If you remember the documentary film that Lily Tomlin narrates, An Apology to Elephants, you will remember Pat Derby co-founder of PAWS, shushing the HBO cameraman saying “We have to be very quiet. Wanda is sleeping.” At this point a camera is focused on a snoozing elephant lying contentedly upon the ground.

Now, why are we speaking of Wanda when it is Gypsy we are choosing as this week’s elephant? Well, if you knew their full history (and only Gypsy and Wanda know most of that story), way back to their days at that awful circus, you would know how they came to be very good friends. But we are getting a little ahead of ourselves. First there was Gypsy and Nicholas.

It was 2007 when Gypsy arrived at PAWS with Nicholas in tow. Former performing elephants, they had both been left at an Illinois “circus training facility” where for years controversy had loomed large upon that godforsaken place. If not for their sheer size they may well have been completely forgotten, as their compatriots had already been parceled out across the country.

But after seemingly endless bureaucratic delays PAWS was able to raise the money and accommodate the two. (To be fair Nicholas was a 10,000 pound bull elephant and “no zoo or wildlife sanctuary, it seemed, wanted a potentially boisterous male”. As it was Gypsy stayed for the sake of Nicholas. After all, they had been together 9 years and Gypsy was more than a surrogate mom to him.)

So, Gypsy and Nicholas remained together at PAWS for another 2 years until it was deemed time to find Nicholas a new stable mate and that was Prince.


Gypsy loves PAWS Sanctuary


Yet there had been another special elephant in Gypsy’s life. Back in her circus days (1980’s), those eternal days when she performed before adoring crowds or faced the cruelty of a bullhook (wielded by human hands, of course) she found a comrade in Wanda who shared her fate.

But it had been over 20 years since they had worked in the same circus and (chained as they were) shared knowing sideways glances with each other down the same elephant line. Well, time doesn’t matter when it comes to old friends.

As the late Pat Derby of PAWS said in An Apology to Elephants “when they met again here they went crazy. Now they are inseparable. They never forget friends, companions, family.”

So with fate and a lot of help from caring humans, such as the late Pat Derby and Ed Stewart of PAWS, these elephants were brought back to each other.

And how wonderful that Wanda was able to enjoy her naps knowing that she and Gypsy (who is also keen on an afternoon slumber!) would remain together in the peacefulness of the sanctuary for the rest of their lives.


For information on how to Adopt Gypsy see: PAWS

Photo credit of Gypsy: PAWS Sanctuary


Gypsy and Wanda  on Facebook

Save Bull Elephants With PAWS Donate to their BUCKS FOR BULLS Campaign

It Had To Begin With Elephants : PAWS Remembers Pat Derby



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *