ATTAPULGUS, Georgia – Two years after opening, the North American Elephant Sanctuary has its first resident, a 34-year-old Asian elephant named Bo.
The 10-foot, 6-inch-tall elephant, which weighs as much as two Range Rovers, has quickly adapted to his home in Attapulgus, Georgia.
“He’s delighted here,” Carden said. “I haven’t seen him much since we released him yesterday.”
Bo, who has metal caps on his tusks to protect them from cracking, was born in captivity and is used to his one-acre home in Missouri.
He is now free to roam the 7-acre habitat, and after a few months, he will roam the 100-acre habitat made up of grasslands, woodlands, ponds, a lake, and a customary “elephant house,” according to the founder of the International Elephant Support Organization Carol Buckley.
“For the first time in his life, he can do what he wants,” Buckley said. “He has to think to himself, ‘What do I want to do?’ It’s a big change.”
In August, Carden decided to retire Bo to the Georgia refuge after his son; Brett Carden initially found out about it.
“I think I’ve found the perfect place for Bo, dad,” Carden’s son said. And after hours of contemplation, Buckley received a call she had been waiting more than two years to receive – her sanctuary would welcome its first elephant.
“I was very happy,” she said. “But I have to go to work.”
The “work” Buckley needed to do was plentiful, as her fence and barn were built to accommodate older female elephants about eight feet tall. On the other hand, Bo is considered to be at the peak of her life and has a more modest ability to cross barriers.
She spent two weeks reinforcing her fence, adding steel posts and a three-inch top rail only to realize Bo was “an easy-going guy.” His polite personality may be because he was castrated, a very common surgery for elephants.