Sat, Oct 15, 2016 - Page 7 News List

Brazil opens first elephant sanctuary in Latin America

AP, CHAPADA DOS GUIMARAES, Brazil

Elephant experts said the animals would not survive if they were simply returned to the wild after living in captivity.

The gap is slowly being filled by a handful of sanctuaries in countries such as the US, Thailand and Malaysia.

Living in a sanctuary can make a big difference for the highly intelligent animals that have a wide range of personalities.

Blais cited Sissy, an elephant taken to the Tennessee sanctuary in 2000. Sissy had been labeled a killer after a zookeeper tending to her died from crushed ribs in 1997.

She was also labeled as autistic and anti-social, and appeared so traumatized that caregivers were not sure she would last long. Sixteen years later, she still lives at the sanctuary, and is thriving.

“We saw that all the things she was labeled with were not her at all,” Blais said. “She evolved into one of the most sensitive, complex beings that I’ve ever witnessed.”

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