In many Asian cultures, the elephant is a symbol of wisdom.
Moving a single elephant to a barn in Hope, Maine, would be a symbol of stupidity.
Jim Laurita, a veterinarian, has built a steel building with a concrete floor on his property in Knox County and hopes to acquire Rosie, a 42-year-old circus elephant suffering from arthritis.
So far, Laurita has the permission of town officials. We hope he never receives the required licenses from state and federal officials who are weighing his application to acquire Rosie.
The elephant is now living out her life in a herd of 27 other elephants from the Carson and Barnes Circus in Oklahoma.
Laurita's ostensible purpose for moving Rosie to Maine would be to do experiments in animal physical therapy and then share his results with other elephant trainers.
It's a harebrained idea that makes about as much sense as moving grandma to a cold place she has never been before, leaving family and friends behind, because her knees hurt.
Laurita's credentials and motives are dubious. Plus, he has missed the most important quality of elephants that any schoolchild knows from watching Animal Planet:
Elephants are highly intelligent, social animals. Female elephants live their entire lives in "tightly knit family groups made up of mothers, daughters, sisters and aunts," according to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
Clans range from five to 15 adults. Elephants have been shown to care for and give sympathy to sick or slow members of their clan. They have rituals for courting, mating and show sympathy for old or ill members.
They will linger and mourn over the carcass of a dead relative. Even years later, they will return to the spot where a member died as if to pay their respects.
Elephants, like human beings, can also be unpredictable and have been known to attack people who torment or try to train them.
For decades, elephants have been taken out of the wild and imprisoned by circuses and zoos. Increasingly, we now realize that these wild animals are far better appreciated in our own living rooms through documentaries done by the National Geographic and other organizations.
Moving a single elephant away from the only family she knows is simply unconscionable.
State and federal officials should put the welfare of this creature ahead of the selfish desires of a single man and deny him permission to acquire Rosie.
If Laurita is so determined to work with elephants, he should drop his veterinary practice, move to Oklahoma and do his work there.
Or better yet, since Rosie's arthritis is likely due to years of captivity, inactivity and standing on concrete floors, he could raise money to place her in a natural elephant sanctuary.
There, she could live among other elephants and receive care from people who know what they are doing.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.