35 Circus Elephants To Retire In Amazing Sanctuary Among Forest, Grassland, And 11 Watering Holes

The Ringling Bros elephants performed every night for years and were most likely dreaming about a place like The White Oak Conservation refuge. 

The 35 Asian pachyderms formerly under the care of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have been invited to spend the rest of their lives in a 2500-acre reserve in Florida which comes equipped with grasslands, a forest, and 11 different waterholes.

The 4-square-mile refuge is located in Yulee and was set up to house the ready-for-retirement elephants in what will become the largest herd of Asian elephants in the West.

Image: White Oak Conservation

It comes as a blessing for the elephants as they were raised in captivity and will not be able to survive in the wilderness.

Philanthropists Mark and Kimbra Walter, whose charity organization, TWF, is the main engine behind the effort said:

“We are thrilled to give these elephants a place to wander and explore.”

TWF’s Michelle Gadd said the following:

“It is a chance for us to let them return to just being elephants in a situation that is as close to the wild as we can make.”

First, the elephants needed to spend some time socializing in order to learn how to function in a herd and family, and then the first group was taken to the Ringling Center for Elephant Conservation (CEC) in Polk County, Florida, to their new home, which is 200 miles away.

Image: White Oak Conservation

They stepped foot in the sanctuary for the first time on May 3 and will be joined by another 20 elephants soon.

White Oaks’ elephant care lead Nick Newby said:

“Watching the elephants go out into the habitat was an incredible moment. I was so happy to see them come out together and reassure and comfort each other, just like wild elephants do, and then head out to explore their new environment. Seeing the elephants swim for the first time was amazing.”

Gadd, who oversees the Walters’ conservation efforts added:

“Elephants are such amazing creatures, and we are pleased to give them a place where they will flourish.

We are excited to watch them adapt to the great outdoors, tasting new plants, exploring new areas, experiencing new things.”

Image: White Oak Conservation

We wish the elephants a happily-ever-after in their new home!

What are your thoughts on this heartwarming story? Let us know by joining the conversation in the comments and please share this article if you’ve found it of value.

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