November 23, 2012

Known for moose, Maine welcomes home 2 elephants

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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In this Tuesday, Nov. 13 photo, Jim Laurita, executive director of Hope Elephants, feeds a carrot to one of the two retired circus elephants at his not-for-profit rehabilitation and educational facility in Hope, Maine. In Maine, a state known for moose and lobsters, two Asian elephants have found themselves a new home. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

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In this Tuesday, Nov. 13 photo, a retired circus elephant plays with a yoga ball at Hope Elephants, a not-for-profit rehabilitation and educational facility in Hope, Maine. In Maine, a state known for moose and lobsters, two Asian elephants have found themselves a new home. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

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Outside the barn, the animals have a little more than an acre to roam in a paddock protected by two electrified fences where they can wander among a few trees, lie in a large pile of sand or roll in a mud hole they've begun making. Shortly after arriving, the pair uprooted and knocked down an apple tree for fun, then trumpeted loudly with pride.

Every day, they each eat 3½ bales of hay, 10 pounds of Purina elephant chow and another 10 pounds of fruit and vegetables, Laurita said. They have a liking for carrots, apples, broccoli and cantaloupes but haven't taken to mushrooms, asparagus or sprouts.

For now, there are no plans to bring more elephants here. The focus instead is on raising additional funds for a planned educational center, a viewing deck, the underwater treadmill and day-to-day operating costs.

Laurita wants his elephants to be in full view of as many people as possible. School groups have been visiting regularly to hear Laurita talk about the need to protect the animals, which are under threat from habitat loss and poachers who go after their ivory.

High school senior Greg Stevens, 17, had never seen an elephant before visiting Laurita's place with other students from a school in Belfast.

"It's pretty cool they're helping them out here," he said. "I didn't even know they could live here."

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Additional Photos

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In this Tuesday, Nov. 13 photo, Opal and Rosie, retired circus elephants, look forward to drinking from a large bucket of water at Hope Elephants, a not-for-profit rehabilitation and educational facility in Hope, Maine. In Maine, a state known for moose and lobsters, the two Asian elephants have found themselves a new home. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

  


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