Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blessed With The Memory Of An Elephant

That’s A Mighty Big Pet To Keep

After a long search, Belfast Zoo has managed to identify a mystery woman who looked after Sheila, one of its baby elephants, in her own back yard to save it from German bombs in 1941, during the Second World War. Denise Austin, who used to walk Sheila around the streets of north Belfast, died in 1997 and is called the "elephant angel".

FOOTNOTE: Ivory coasting.

11 comments:

Mara said...

Your title says it all doesn't it? A mighty big pet to keep. How they couldn't find out who she was, is incredible to me. After all, it wasn't as if she was looking after a kitty cat!

Artist Unplugged said...

Awwwww, that is an awesome task. This day and time she would be required to carry a bag on those walks or be fined!

Katney said...

There is a children's book that this reminds me of--"If Anything Ever Goes Wrong at the Zoo". Lisa, on every visit, tells the various animal keepers that if anything ever goes wrong at the zoo, they should bring the animals to her house. So during an enormous rainfall, there is flooding at the zoo, and Lisa's mother is rather surprised to see all the animals arrive one by one.

Mojo said...

Amazing. The "crazy cat lady down the block" is back fence and dinner table fodder every night of the week, but the "crazy elephant lady" is forgotten for over 50 years? How does that happen?

Given the situation in Belfast in the post-war years, Sheila might've been better off taking her chances with the German bombs. But I suspect she was safely back in the zoo by that time.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

What a beautiful story about a woman with a big heart!

ConverseMomma said...

Oh elephants are my favorite animal, my spirit animal if you will. Can I say that without sounding totally new age?

Tarolino said...

I've never heard of this story. What a strange thing to have done. She must have been the talk of the town so how it could have taken all this time is beyond me. Surely the story of the elephant must have been clear to the zoo at the time. Anyway thanks for sharing this story.

Ananda girl said...

I love this little story. Elephants are such treasures. What a wonderful woman to take on such a task!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Oh, that's so sweet. And elephants remember. They have phenomenal memories and can recognize other elephants they knew years and years before. I bet the elephant loved her always.

Sheila :-)

Nessa said...

Neat. Well, not the streets, I'd imagine.

Janet said...

What a nice story. Per Mojo's comment, I'm pretty sure the term "crazy cat lady" is in my future.