HOPE, Maine — Two retired circus elephants are ready to move to Maine after the federal government gave its approval.
Hope Elephants, a nonprofit group, plans to bring the animals to a new rehabilitation center built in town by this fall. The group already received town approval and the state approved the elephants’ move in September, according to Justin McAnaney, director of operations.
Hope Elephants has asked the state to consider allowing it to move in the elephants sooner. That approval is pending.
Bringing an elephant to Maine was veterinarian Jim Laurita’s dream. He founded the nonprofit Hope Elephants and built a 1,200-square-foot barn for Rosie, a 42-year-old elephant he worked with in the 1970s.
Rather than let Rosie, who suffers from arthritis, live out her days in Oklahoma with a herd of 27 other elephants from the Carson and Barnes Circus, Laurita and the circus had the idea to send Rosie to Maine and try different types of physical therapy with her. Laurita then would share any tactics that work with circus trainers to help with future bouts of arthritis in the herd.
The plan was always to bring Rosie to Maine, but during the long licensing processes, Hope Elephants found a second animal who also needs care.
The group plans to bring Opal, another retired circus Asian elephant, to the barn as well. Opal’s joints are deteriorating, according to a press release from Hope Elephants.
Opal was moved to Oklahoma to get to know Rosie before the two head north.