Born on April Fool’s Day, April 1, 1983, Rama is the youngest son of the Oregon Zoo’s most famous elephants, Packy and Rosy. Rama was destined for fame, to inspire millions with his uncanny ability to paint extraordinary abstracts. Of three bulls, Rama was the smallest at about 8,500 pounds. His father, Packy, was born on April 14, 1962. Handsome and huge at 13,500 pounds, Packy has been famous since birth, having been the first elephant born in the western hemisphere in 44 years. Currently, he is the oldest male Asian elephant in North America. At 12 feet tall, Packy is one of the tallest elephants in the United States, and perhaps even world wide.
Rama began painting as a form of enrichment, leading to his career as Oregon’s ‘biggest’ artist. Highly intelligent, Rama quickly learned how to paint with trunk. Rama liked the breathing exercise and began following keepers around, blowing air out his trunk. One keeper, Jeb Barsh began to contemplate that behavior and after careful thought, introduced non-toxic children’s paints into the tip of his trunk.
Rama then blasted the paint onto the canvas. Afterward, he washed his own trunk. Once Rama had mastered spray painting, it was time for Rama to start brush painting. Brushing exercised his strong trunk muscles and gave him creative freedom. Enthusiastically, his ears would come out and he shook his head happily.
At any time, Rama could have chosen not to paint. He freely chose to participate at every opportunity. Rama is truly an amazing elephant, changing lives as he amazes children of all ages.
RAMA, A NAME WITH POWER: In ancient Sanskrit, only two mantra are called taaraka, (that which can ferry you across) and they are OM and RAMA, words of great significance. In Hinduism, it is said that the repetition of the two life giving letters, ra and ma, are deeply purifying.
Rama, the son of the great king of Adyodhya in India, lived with great integrity and courage in spite of a long, arduous journey filled with harsh challenges and tests. Rama returned from a long exile and was crowned King and then Emperor, ruling with justice, prosperity, peace and happiness. Rama is the symbol of The Perfect Man and the Lord of Virtue, who, it is said will come again in a time of great need.
Back to Calley or Jeb
Jeb Barsh and Rama the elephant in a creative outdoor training session at the Oregon Zoo.
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