Retired Circus Elephants Relax in Their New Home in Florida

White Oak Conservation
White Oak Conservation

The elephants were previously owned by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, but the company retired all of their animals in 2016.

A group of circus elephants are getting settled in their new homes at a wildlife refuge in Florida, and the 12 animals aren’t having much trouble adjusting.The female Asian elephants, that range in age from 8 to 38 years old, arrived at a refuge near Jacksonville, and are now living in a habitat with pine trees, ponds, wet lands and grass lands, according to the refuge.

The elephants were previously owned by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey and the owners of White Oak Conservation, the Walter family, bought the animals. Now, they’re roaming around and venturing off in their new space after having been socialized together for the past two years.

"They are doing amazingly well. I am very surprised at how quickly they adapted to the environment, how readily they went out of the gates as soon as the gates were opened," Michelle Gadd, the chief of conservation for the Walter family, told CNN.

In 2016, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey retired its elephants after complaints about their treatment by animal rights groups. In 2017, the elephants gave their final performances. The show had used elephants for 100 years prior.

Asian elephants are endangered and their estimated population is between 40,000 and 50,000 in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

As construction of their 2,500-acre area in the refuge for the elephants continues, they may be joined by up to 20 more elephants, but the space will be divided into different habitats for different herds, according to the White Oak Conservation.

White Oak Conservation is a 17,000-acre refuge certified by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, and also houses rhinos and cheetahs among many other animals.

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