The passing of Mila the elephant has left me heart sore, as I have fond memories of growing up right next door to the Franklin Zoo. Our family formed a great relationship with Helen and her staff.
From the age of five, we lived in an old villa that was surrounded by the zoo park. It was owned by Bev and Laurie Gaskell, the loveliest people you could possibly meet.
I use to give my mum heart failure, as she would often find me scaled up the 6ft fence between our house, feeding Mazda the Camel. He didn’t particularly like people, but didn’t seem to mind me and the treats I used to give him.
I certainly miss hearing the lions roar in the evening—they were literally right in our backyard!
It was a sad day when Bev and Laurie sold the zoo and retired. To this day, I still class two of the former keepers as my brother and sister. But fast forward to 2006 when Helen and her team took over, the rest you could say was history. Basically, Helen was Franklin Zoo and Wildlife Sanctuary. She gave everything she had to the love and care of the animals.
I even remember her saying that the pittance salary that she did receive was too much, and that the funds should be placed into the trust for the animals.
Helen loved that elephant, she loved that sanctuary, and her passing devastated so many in the community. Upon rehoming all of the animals in the sanctuary, Mila was the last to leave. She was the last of Helen’s legacy.
I am sure Helen would have been so proud of those who worked tirelessly to ensure her dream for Mila to live her life as a normal elephant, became a reality.
Helen was the most dedicated, compassionate, innovative and selfless person I had ever met.
The world certainly lost one of its most precious jewels in its crown the day she passed away. My sincerest condolences to all who were involved with rehoming and care of Mila the elephant.