Some kids dream of running away to join the circus, while the Ringling Bros. elephants who had been performing every night might have been dreaming of a place like this, a dream that is now coming true.
35 Asian pachyderms formerly in the care of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus are being welcomed to a 2,500-acre preserve in Florida where they can wander among their favorite habitats (wetlands, grasslands, or forests) and splash in 11 wells of water. different. .
The White Oak Conservation Refuge, located in Yulee, was established to house retiring elephants in what will become the largest herd of Asian elephants in the Western Hemisphere.
The 4-square-mile refuge is the best setting for these elephants because they have been bred in captivity and are not equipped to survive in the wild.
“It is an opportunity for us to let them go back to being just elephants in a situation that is the closest to nature we can do,” explained TWF’s Michelle Gadd in an interview with National Geographic.
After a period of socializing to bring them up to speed on herd and family dynamics, the first group of elephants was transported in pairs for the 200-mile journey from the Ringling Center for Elephant Conservation (CEC) in the county. from Polk, Florida, to his new home. .
They earned their first peak at the sanctuary on May 3, and will be joined by another group of 20 arriving in the near future.
“Watching the elephants go out into the habitat was an incredible moment,” said White Oaks Elephant Care Leader Nick Newby. “I was very happy to see them go out together and reassure and comfort each other, like wild elephants do, and then go out to explore their new surroundings. Seeing the elephants swim for the first time was amazing. “
“Elephants are such amazing creatures, and we are pleased to give them a place where they will thrive,” added Gadd, who oversees Walters’ conservation efforts.
“We are excited to see them adapt to the outdoors, trying new plants, exploring new areas, experiencing new things.”
And, for elephants, waking up every morning in retirement is a dream we can all leave behind.
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