Minnie was born in Asia in 1966. She was taken from the wild and exported to North America the same year. She was purchased by the owner of a private wild animal farm in Alberta, Canada and named Talli. She was the sole elephant on exhibit. At age 17, she was sold to Circus Vargas and her name was changed to Minnie. After traveling for years with the circus, Minnie was sold to the Hawthorn Corporation along with Lottie, Gypsy, and Sue. The elephants were then leased for use in circuses and performing exhibitions.
As a result of USDA prosecutions against the Hawthorn Corporation for violations of the Animal Welfare Act for inadequate care and mistreatment of its elephants, Minnie and ten other Hawthorn elephants were transferred to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.
On January 31, 2006, Minnie became the 15th resident of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee arriving with her companion Lottie. Minnie was the first of eight elephants to arrive in 2006. During their first weeks and months at The Sanctuary, it became clear that Minnie, Lottie, and Queenie were very close. They spent all of their time together, sometimes accompanied by Debbie and Ronnie. Minnie is a very large and outgoing elephant. Staff have described her as "boisterous." However, she was submissive towards Lottie. Queenie passed away in 2008 after two years at The Sanctuary, Lottie followed in 2010. With Queenie and Lottie gone, Minnie was without close companions. Minnie's initial attempts to socialize with Debbie and Ronnie were rebuffed…Minnie and Debbie are two very large, willful elephants that seemed to vie for Ronnie's attention. For the wellbeing of all three, Staff gave Minnie access to a separate area of the habitat where she could still see, touch, and smell Debbie and Ronnie while a fence separated them. EleCam viewers regularly watched Minnie playing with her culvert (a 200 lb drainage pipe) and even reveling in the new ponds and rolling creeks created by the 2010 flood of Middle Tennessee. Minnie would regularly meet up with Debbie and Ronnie at the fence for trunk touches. Caregivers also arranged closely supervised "play-dates" between the three to encourage socialization.
In Fall of 2015, after years of get-togethers, the trio began to solidify their relationship. After one September play-date, they showed no signs of tiring of one another's company, so the play-day turned into an overnight, then another day, then a week, then a month. Minnie, Debbie, and Ronnie are now almost never apart. Possibly because of her time spent in Canada, Minnie pays little mind to winter's cooler weather. She seems to encourage Debbie and Ronnie to follow her out into the habitat on cooler days. Caregivers have seen Minnie breaking ice on the pond to go for a quick dip.
Currently Minnie is The Sanctuary's heaviest elephant. Her weight fluctuates around 11,000 pounds. She can be recognized by the broad base of her trunk and her bright white toenails. Minnie is also the only elephant at The Sanctuary with all white hair on her tail.