South Georgia elephant sanctuary welcomes first resident

Bo roaming his habitat.
Bo roaming his habitat.(Elephant Aid International)
Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 12:26 PM EDT
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ATTAPULGUS, Ga. (WCTV) - Elephant Refuge North America, an 850-acre natural habitat located in Attapulgus, Georgia, plans to accept its first resident later this month.

Bo, a 34-year-old male elephant, is being released by the George Carden Circus after 30 years of performing, Elephant Aid International says. He was born and raised captive in Florida his entire life, but will now enjoy wide open spaces for roaming and play for the rest of his days.

Bo will have the autonomy to choose where and when he eats, sleeps, bathes and grazes. When other elephants arrive, he will have the freedom to choose his companions. The Refuge finished construction just over three years ago, and had hoped to receive an elephant by late 2018, but had been unsuccessful until Bo, according to the press release.

ERNA was designed to protect and foster retired performance elephants coming from circuses and zoos and allow them to enjoy the rest of their natural lives, one of just three such facilities in the nation.

Elephant Aid International President and CEO Carol Buckley said she’s excited Bo has a new home.

“The fact that George Carden is retiring Bo, a performing elephant in the prime of his life, to a refuge sets a new precedent for how performing elephants can live out their lives,” Buckley said.

Buckley actually had a history with Bo, meeting him when the elephant was one year-old, and again at age 10.

“Seeing him now, 20 years later, it’s obvious he has been very well cared for,” said Buckley. “He’s an impressive bull elephant, incredibly healthy in body and mind. He will continue to thrive and flourish under our care.”

Bo will occupy a seven-acre habitat during his initial months at the Refuge, before moving to a 100-acre space. He’ll enjoy pastures, woods, a pond and a new custom-designed, fully automated elephant house. The Refuge is launching a fundraising campaign to reinforce existing fencing around those 100 acres.

Bo is set to arrive at ERNA on Sept. 23.

To follow Bo’s progress, donate to the Bo’s Home campaign and learn more about Elephant Refuge North America, visit this link.

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