Hope Elephants has lost a valuable member of the sanctuary team.
A story by National Geographic reveals that Executive Director of Hope Elephants, Jim Laurita, was found dead in a barn in Maine.
Here’s a video report uploaded to YouTube by user WorldstarVirals.
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In a statement from the sheriff’s office, an elephant had accidentally stepped on Laurita after he had fallen. He suffered internal fractures which caused him to asphyxiate.
Laurita founded the organization Hope Elephants after he sold his veterinary practice in Camden, Maine. Hope Elephants is a refuge for injured and abandoned animals; the sanctuary is currently home to two elephants.
Laurita had a passion for elephants, which was apparent by his unlimited love and care for them. Laurita held a PhD in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University, starting his own practice before focusing on caring for retired and abused elephants. He then focused on creating Hope Elephants.
According to Bangor Daily News, the elephants, Opal and Rose, are now going to be transferred to their original home in Oklahoma.
The elephants were living in heated barns in Maine (not the best climate for elephants.) The move back to Oklahoma will hopefully be better for the animals, who had endured years of abusive treatment as circus animals prior to their time at Hope Elephants.
While the elephants were with Jim Laurita, they received therapy; Jim’s friends and co-workers are confident the elephants will be going back to Oklahoma with a healthier mindset toward humans.