As one of a great team, Jeb Barsh is a highly dedicated keeper who loves his work today more than ever. He worked in the elephant barn for years before moving in 2012 to the African Savanna Exhibit. Creative, quick witted and passionate about saving endangered species, Jeb has worked with animals in one way or another since childhood. He is a husband and father and sees the similarities between human relations and relating to animals. Caring is caring.
Here’s what Jeb has to say about his relationship with Rama.
Rama was a remarkable animal, and it has been a great pleasure to work with him. I remain his greatest fan and am honored to have come to know him as a partner. His utter abandon and cooperation inspired those that were lucky enough to witness him work. He brightened upon the sight of us. He became a successful artist. We choreographed and he cooperated with enthusiasm. He thrust himself toward the outcome, in faith, so it seems to me, and his paint exploded on the canvas – a dance. I searched for purpose for Rama and found it in this work.
We were human and elephant engaged in a joyous transfer of energy that unexpectedly produced a unique body of work. From the brink of extinction, he joins trunk to hand to canvas to you – to inspire all children to act upon their innate instinct to nurture each other and all the creatures of this planet.
Back to Rama or Calley
An International Traveling Exhibition of Endangered Species
Dedicated to the Children of the World by Calley O'Neill with Rama the Elephant
AN EPIC JOURNEY OF ART AND SOUL FOR THE EARTH
RAMA: AMBASSADOR FOR THE ENDANGERED ONES
Speaking Passionately on Behalf of Those who Cannot Speak
I have been asked by friends and people that knew Rama- ‘Did I plan to write about him at some point?’ I always said that I would. I am working through the complicated nuances held within his life and his passing to distill exactly how I could do him and those who knew him the justice within the story he and they deserve to have told.
In the processes of living beside Rama as one of his keepers in captive management for thirteen years, I have multiple views of his life. There is a story here for sure. I want to be clear that distilling his life into words is both a joy and a sadness for me. I miss him terribly.
He and all the captive animals of the world hold value beyond comprehension and all the more so with the wild representatives of so many species held globally in ever stressed and shrinking rangelands and the very real peril toward extinction. We live in the time of extinction, and this time, the event is human-driven.
I take any word put forward for this story with tremendous reflection. I want Rama's life to communicate the great capacity held in an elephant's existence -- within all animals’ existence. I have felt personally the importance held through knowing Rama, with the power in a word put forward to move a heart -- words from which I want you to know Rama as I did.
For each of us and each of them, those animals under our care and those in-situ, we are the deciding generations and, like it or not, it is our question to answer, ‘What will we do about it’? The answer is ours to decide.
In your knowing what knowing him meant to me a river flows from him, through me, to you. A muted force in nature, Rama is a good boy forever held within my heart. I get the sense that somehow, the story of Rama, translated by me to you is meant toward helping to see the power of one, expanded into the whole, the "is", of our lives and theirs. I Believe! And I will do my best by you Rama. I am so grateful to have known you. My work for you is not yet done...