Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ted and Pat Derbys first elephant Neena

My last blog was about Pat Derby, co-founder of PAWS in California, and critics against her poor competence as animal trainer, her total lack of welfare for animals etc during her years as "trainer".

I found an interesting link on Circus Fans Association of America where you can read, among other things regarding Animal Rights Activists and PAWS:  "Derby rarely mentions how in her days as a trainer and operator of a roadside zoo in Buellton , CA, an elephant in her care died in a barn fire."  

The last line, about Neena surprised me, because for sure, it seems really like Mrs Derby doesnt want to speak about this elephant Neena. Searching through PAWS documents, and googling, it was like Neena hadnt existed, which is very rare, normally, an elephant owners first elephant is like the first love. But thanks to Mr Ryan Easley, who help me with lot of american elephants records in my database, and Mr Robert Cline, a circus historian who has generously shared with me his records, I already had Neena in my database

Neena arrived Big Johns circus in 1962 and was bought by Ted Derby in 1970, when Ted and Pat Derby stayed at a place refered to as Buellton Wild Animal Park and sometimes called Andersens zoo, in Buellton.

Records about Neena from Bob Cline
Female Asian 1962 to 1969 - Big John Strong Circus
1970 to 1982 - retired in Northern California
Died in Feb. 1982 at the Pat Derby farm in Leggett. California
Probably Neena 2 at John Strong circus.
John Strong had a one ring Circus on the west coast for years. Known as the Big John Strong Show. His son still has a side show out of Texas. Nina is spelled Neena. There have been three of them with the one on C&B now being the last one. 

All were on the Big John Strong show thus the name was never changed and people didn't realize the elephant had changed. The second one retired in Northern California in 1970 and died in February 1982 at the Pat Derby farm in Leggett, California.
Bob Cline, 01/29/2009

The picture to the right is probably Neena 2, at Big John Strong circus, before she was sold to Ted Derby. (Photo: Courtesy of The Circus Blog.)

Page 26 of Daily Review , July 28, 1971:

Fun at Anderson's Zoo show time has no hassles 

BUELLTON California.
 Neena the elephant and her 90 friends at Animal Farm have the best of table manners but then who doesn't when a pretty waitress brings a big salad of lettuce as apples oranges rots and Such dishes are served up daily by three pretty young women including senior Marianne Kingsley who whips up the 91 separate diets daily There's no snarling and clawing at meal time as 1 suspected there might be when I first came to work Marianne relates Why she says Brosi the tiger even likes to sit around in the water in his cage and make little clicking sounds at her That's something that just isn't expected from a Siberian tiger He doesn't like baby strollers or the train thai runs through the park But he calms down when we speak to Owners Ted and Pat Derby care for the mals some of which gain local celebrity status as television commercial formers Boris is the TV stand-in for another park guest Ri- gel who stars in a com- for a gasoline company Diets provide variety and cope with health lems As nearly as possible they duplicate the foods that each animal would consume in its wild state That's pretty tough with anteaters Their natural foods are ants grubs and says Mrs Derby To provide them with the proper sub- their meals are composed of prime ground round steak without fat two tablespoons of cottage cheese three egg yolks and a tablespoon each of calcium and vitamin B- complex The array Includes seale the seal Seymour the grizzly bear Nutmeg the Asian monkey and Lucy Brown a kinkajou who likes yogurt and ba-nanas and better not skip a day Mrs Derby says they aren't even bothered by a large wolf who actually moves his lips and eyes in smiling response when she visits

The article animal stunts tells about how Pat Derby rode Neena, through the ceremonial opening ribbon at the San Diego Wild Animal Park in 1972 and later gave talks about her animals to zoo visitors.

More traces of Neena is to be find on Circus Report from 24 of July 1978: which tells about Big John Strong Circus in Cincinnatti, Ohio, and "Chris Burell and Neena the elephant". This circus report also mentions:  "Pat Derby, animal trainer and author of the book the lady and her tiger, has moved her animals to "Howling Wolf Lodge" at Legget, California. Later, I understood from Robert Cline, that Big John Strong Circus had three different elephants, all called Neena. Ted Derbys Neena was number 2 on Big John Strong Circus, while the mentioned Chris Burell and Neena the elephant seems to have been Neena number 3.

Obviously Neena 2 was used in the film Alabamas Ghost, released 1973.You can read the most interesting intrigue from the film Alabamas Ghost here, and also the lines Neena the Elephant as well as:

Ted Derby (Elephant trainer)
Pat Derby (Elephant trainer) 

The article Open wide, elephant caretaker published in August 13, 1977, shows Nina, when she was housed at Pat Derbys famous wild animals in Earl Laursens farm, Pomeroy Road, Nipomo Mesa, Santa Ynez Valley in Californa. and Ray Ryan, who started to work for Pat Derby in 1976. In 1981, Ryan went to San Diego State to get a degree in Psychology, and worked at with African elephants at the San Diego Wild Animal Park until 1988. Since 2010 Ray Ryan work at Kerulos center, which I emailed, asking to get in contact with Mr Ryan. I never had an answer, seems he dont want to speak about Neena. (More about Ray Ryan at Kerulos Center.)

After 1977 Internet does not give any more glimpses of Neena that I succeeded to find. But after Pat Derby and Ed Stewart moved to Legget, California, she seems to have been housed there, on Howling Wolf Lodge and Wild Animal Sanctuary where Neena is supposed to have died, in a barn fire, in February 1982. 

At least two persons with direct connections to Neena has confirmed that this was the case. 

But Pat Derby and Ed Stewart never mentioned her death anywhere, and it seems they forgot they owned her? How can you forget that you owned an elephant 1970-1982, which died in a barn fire?
It seems to me that Pat Derby was rather trying to hide the facts about Neenas death. Why? It must be a terrible experience if your elephant dies in a barn fire, and the only page with a connection to PAWS, where I have seen Neenas name mentioned is a pdf document titled tributes, where Brian Busta, ARK 2000 Sanctuary Manager/Senior Elephant Keeper mention her, together with the other Asian elephants..

Who, or what started the barnfire where the elephant died, and why has Neenas name been hidden throughout PAWS history?

6th of May 2013 I posted a question on PAWS Facebook page, asking: You write "Every elephant has a story, and we are part of that story." What is Neenas story? adding a link to the page I did about Neena in my database. Noone answered my question on PAWS Facebook page, and within 24 hours it was deleted by PAWS. Please continue to ask them what happened to Neena on PAWS Facebook.

It seems that Earnie Brnscomb, volunteer fireman since 1973 in Legget have some knowledge about the barnfire in Legget 1982, so I have written an email to him to get more details about the fire. 

Meanwhile, the traces I have found on Internet, are from people who gives indication of anger regarding the death, as if they blame Pat Derby. Is this why Derby was qiet about Neena?

Lauren Tariel, daughter to Larry Tariel who worked with Neena on John Strongs circus, writes on Facebook page Pet Law News  and Facebook page for Circus Historical Society:
"The circus also had three elephants at different times named Neena. The Neena my dad worked with retired and went to Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) who claimed that they "rescued" Neena. Pat Derby who took Neena wrote in her book, A Lady and Her Tiger, about the tricks that Neena did because Neena "wanted to" and not because she had to. Pat seemed clueless that Neena was trained to do those things because she wanted to learn them. Neena would do her act even when her handler was not in the ring. My dad wanted to visit Neena because she lived nearby, but she died in a fire at PAWS. The people who claimed to "rescue" Neena, killed her with negligence."

My dad wanted to visit Neena because she lived nearby, but she died in a fire at PAWS. The people who claimed to "rescue" Neena, killed her with negligence.
The article Animal rights activist Pat Derby dies at 70 says "Derby was known to have a special affection for the elephants, at times sleeping in the animals’ barn to be near them." 

In my last blog about Pat Derby, co-founder of PAWS in California, Jan Giacinto, Exotic Animals in Santa Rita, discusses her drinking habits: "Pat bragged about how the agency sent her cases of wine. That was her favourite drink, and she would have her glass in around ten in the morning. I have seen her drink wine while working on the commercial with fullgrown cougars."

If Pat Derby was drinking a lot of wine during the early eighties, and was at times sleeping in Neenas barn,  is it possible that Pat Derby also was a smoker, and that she accidently started the fire that killed Neena?

Is this why people who knew Neena are so upset?Who can tell more about what happened to Neena?

EDIT 2013-05-08: A person today told me that "the only thing I heard was Neena was in a truck and it was freezing cold and they lit a fire underneath the trailer to warm her up and the trailer caught on fire". (Confirmed by another person)

At Last Chance For Animals in Los Angeles you can request investigation regarding Neenas death.


No comments:

Post a Comment