A 4-ton, 40-year-old Asian elephant moved into his new home on Monday at a new animal sanctuary 30 kilometers north of Culiacán, Sinaloa.
“Big Boy” spent 30 years as a circus animal and was then chained to Jalisco for five years after a law banning the use of circus animals took effect in 2015. He was transferred from Jalisco to Sinaloa three months ago.
The elephant spent three months in the Culiacán Zoo, where his diet was monitored, and he received medical care before being moved to an outdoor sanctuary earlier this week.
The 21-hectare Ostok Animal Sanctuary and Conservation Area will be home to endangered ecosystem animals and those rescued from illegal trade, poaching, and abandonment.
When animal rights activist Arturo Islas Allende lobbied restaurant entrepreneur Jorge Cueva, known as Mr. Tempo, the project came to fruition to purchase the Big Boy for about $400,000. Allende and the president of the Association of Zoos, Breeders, and Aquariums, Ernesto Zazueta, later founded the reserve.
However, taking care of the elephant makes no sense: it eats more than 200 kg of alfalfa, oats, and fruit every day.
Zazueta explained the need for the sanctuary. “We are in a very, very critical situation. In the last 30 years, we have lost 40% of the animals in our country, and 30% are at risk of extinction,” he said.
“Governments have ended up ramping up massive urbanization mega-projects that destroy the homes of hundreds of thousands of animals and reduce the budget allotted to the environment, causing a lack of protection for the vast majority of Natural Protected Areas and the abandonment of wild fauna,” he added.