Gentle Barn in Knoxville held it’s last public tour Sunday morning before relocating to Nashville.
“Knoxville has been very, very good to us,” said Ellie Laks, Gentle Barn’s founder. “While going to Nashville is very exciting, leaving Knoxville is sad.”
Ellie Laks founded the Gentle Barn in 1999 in California. She opened the second location in Knoxville in 2015 after rescuing Dudley, a young cow in need of a prosthetic leg.
“We brought him to UT Knoxville for the amputations, the surgeries, the preparations and the getting used to the prosthesis,” said Laks. “We really thought it was very important we stay here in Knoxville next to his bovine surgeon should anything go awry.”
Dudley passed away last year and the organization decided it was time to move the state’s biggest city, Nashville.
“It’s easier for people from around the world to travel there because it’s just 40 minutes from the airport,” said Laks. “We will be in front of a bigger population of inner city and special needs children to work with, we’ll have more school field trips.”
The gentle barn has been more than about helping animals but also people. Beth Floyd knows this first hand. Her daughter has ADHD and anxiety.
“My oldest daughter turned 14 yesterday and she all really asked for was to come here for her birthday,” said Floid. “She had read the book last spring and just fell in love with the whole story and it was actually one of the first book she’s ever read from beginning to end on her own.”
Sunday was the Floids first and last time to the Knoxville location but Floid says it’s been memorable.
“She’s really loved meeting the animals in person,” said Floid. “Ellie’s been so good to give her one on one time and just tell about her about the animals and answer a lot of questions, because, she had read the book and so she felt like she knew some of the animals personally.”
Gentle Barn will open their Nashville location Sunday August 26. The new property will be bigger. The Knoxville location is a rented 12 acres while the new location will be a purchased 40.
To learn more about the Gentle Barn visit their website.