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Over the Fence and Through the Barn: Babe Overcomes the Species Barrier

Some unexpected friendships often develop in the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch’s backyard. This time, the friendships blossomed in the barnyard of Babe, our rescued elephant.

Babe and Omar

Babe, the African elephant, and Omar, a dromedary camel, forged a bond over the common fence.

Destined for a life of parades, nativity scenes and pageants, Omar had been born to a Texas exotic animal dealer. His life would have been an endless grind of being trucked around the country and rented out to various sideshows. Fortunately for him, he was rescued and brought to the Ranch as a young camel. Staff fed him with a bottle for several months. He was the only camel here at the time, and when he wasn’t interacting with his human caretakers, he became interested in his neighbor.

Babe and Tara, two elephants living together at the time, were Omar’s neighboring companions. While Tara took no interest in Omar, Babe took a liking to him. They soon began touching each other through the fence; Babe would reach with her trunk to sniff and feel Omar, and Omar enjoyed the contact, as they both vocalized in new ways. Surprisingly, though two other dromedary camels now live with Omar in the same enclosure, he maintains his bond with Babe. The friendship is probably even more important to Babe since the passing of Tara. They can still be seen, Babe’s trunk entwined around Omar’s neck, at the fence – often the two friends engaged in an interspecies game of “tug o’ war.”

Friendly and Scar

While making rounds one evening, Sue Farinato, Animal Services Coordinator, observed two burros, Friendly and Scar, approaching Babe’s barn. Standing quietly in the shadows, she saw them slip through a narrow space between the barn and fence. Babe, who was playing with a hanging barrel outside, seemed not to notice. The burros turned a corner and slipped into the elephant barn.

Peering in through another opening, Sue saw Friendly and Scar lying peacefully in Babe’s new sandbox! “What happens when Babe comes in?” she thought as she ran for the camera. Upon returning, she found the two burros still lying down and Babe still outside playing. It remains a mystery as to whether these three animals sleep under the same roof at night, but one which Sue intends to solve eventually!

The ranch staff is often asked about Babe’s solitary life here at the ranch. While very aware of the social nature of elephants and their need to be with others of their own kind, we are comforted by the fact that Babe is, in fact, not alone. Because of Babe’s gentle nature, she has companions, albeit of other species, with whom she interacts daily. She also has her human companions, who form a substitute “herd”.

The ranch is thoroughly exploring all options open for Babe. Because of the severe injuries to her legs which she sustained while performing in a circus, it appears that Babe cannot be relocated to another elephant sanctuary at this time. It is possible, however, that she would welcome the addition of another rescued elephant at the ranch. But for now, a day in the life of Babe and her neighbors seems to have its own rewards.

posted July 5, 2006