Thirty-five elephants rescued from the Ringling Bros Circus are finally moved to a lush new habitat at Florida’s White Oak Conservation Center form.
The largest group of Asian elephants in the western hemisphere have been saved from forced performances in poor and abusive conditions.
The first 12 cubs of the herd were sent to the conservation center, and for Michelle Gadd, a dedicated conservationist, this is a dream come true.
She said: “A lot of kids have dreams of running away and joining the circus. Well, I was the one who wanted to run away and release all the animals out of the circus. ”
Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey’s circus attracted elephants for most of its 146 years of running, but they had to give up the action that had been opposed in many years against the abusive conditions they will live under.
When they were initially rescued, they moved to a small sanctuary in Orlando. This was before Walter Conservation came to the rescue and began building habitats to house 35 elephants.
They can eventually roam freely and really bond as a herd.
“Elephants are one of the most social and empathetic animals out there – and not only are they getting used to their new surroundings, but they’re also getting to know each other.”
“They seem to have arranged a hierarchy between them. They regrouped just outside the fence and once again reassured each other. Roaring, touching, putting their trunks in each other’s mouths”.
“The two oldest girls, I called them mean girls, but maybe they’re just a little bit bossy,” Gadd said.
She hopes people will see that elephants are just as beautiful as they are.
“They don’t have to ride, train, or do tricks or travel the world,” she said. “Leave them in their rightful place, and there is nothing more beautiful than that.”
Since elephants are bred to become dependent on humans, they cannot be returned to the wild and survive. So this is the best option for them.
“The best thing for these animals is to live in a complex environment that is close to nature in a realistic way.”
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