Close the barn door before the elephant arrives

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.

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.



Dianne Tucker's picture

The financials of this

Has anyone wondered why a circus that has made millions off the back of Rosie needs a fundraiser for her care. Why exactly are Hope Maine residents donating to this "charity"? What will the Laurita's compensation be? Something about this project just doesn't pass the smell test. Has anyone looked into the financial end of this to see who may be profiting? It sure isn't the elephants.

Dianne Tucker's picture

Thank you

Thank you for stating the obvious here. It simply makes no sense to bring an aging arthritic elephant to the cold climate in Maine. This veterinarian, although perhaps well intentioned is putting this poor animal in a worse situation. His arrogance to think he can do better than the sanctuaries with their trained and EXPERIENCED doctors is stunning. The barn although well constructed is too small considering she will be spending the majority of her day in it during the winter months. Several elephant experts have openly questioned the wisdom of this move. And then to ask the town and it's children to raise funds to fulfil his dream and maintain his property (pet elephant) is beyond belief. I pray that the good people of Hope see this pipe dream is a death sentence for Rosie and put a stop to it. This whole idea is reprehensible and appalling. Thank you.

Bryan Monell's picture


Thank you for this well written article. This is very personal to me. I know Rosie. I worked in the Carson and Barnes Elephant and got to know Rosie very well. We traveled together around the country. I have seen Rosie beaten countless times with Bullhooks and baseball bats. I've seen her punched in the face with a closed fists. Before every single performance as she was waiting with the other elephants before they went into the tent her handler would stab her in her rear left leg with a bullhook. If you look at Rosies back left leg or behind her left ear you will see lots of old scars. To see where Rosie lives and how she was trained take a look at the video I shot of the elephants at Carson and Barnes Rosie has had a miserable life enslaved at Carson and Barnes. She is one of the sweetest beings I have ever had the honor of meeting. I remember rubbing her cheeks countless times which she really enjoyed. Rosie suffers along with all the other elephants at Carson and Barnes. She was chained up 18 hrs a day on a concrete floor with the other elephants. That being said, it would be wrong to remove her to a place with no other elephants. Sending her to a cold environment to treat her arthritis is insane. Do not take her away from her friends. It's time to retire Rosie and her friends to an Elephant sanctuary. They've earned millions for Carson and Barnes over the yrs. Let them live out their lives in peace. Let them walk and play freely for once. Wishing you freedom and peace Rosie.

Barbara Lovett's picture

Rosie, the Arthritic Elephant

Thank you, R Rhoades, for an informative editorial. I have been following this story for some time, and I agree with every point you have made. Rosie, the elephant, deserves a sanctuary to live out the rest of her life, not a 1200 ft barn in cold, cold Maine. Having seen many inside videos of elephants being abused in circuses, I can assume Rosie herself has been badly abused with Carson & Barnes to provide human entertainment. A wild animal in captivity is a very sad thing, especially with a sentient being such as an elephant who needs many acres to move and a family to love (just like humans). I urge the people of Hope, Maine to fight this harebrained idea, and to help Rosie find a way to a sanctuary in TN or CA.

 's picture


The article states that Elephants have been known to attack people who try to train them,or torment them. Hopefully if he is allowed to bring the Elephant here the Elephant will attack him and get sent back to Oklahoma to live out the rest of her life. Problem Solved.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Close the barn door before the elephant arrives

( and we thought this was about Republicans :)
12.01.02 8 pm

Whelp ,

Bringing elephants to ME for personal use is a bit like bringing Huskies and Malamutes and other shaggy dogs to HI . People do it . We call it animal cruelty here . Humans ( like elephants ) possess long memories , too , yet they , [ the pachyderms ] , do not wear shoes or Bean ® boots against the cold weather . Try llamas or something of that nature

Being an animal lover myself , i'd also check with the York ME zoo first before attempting this venture to see if they have room for a secondhand elephant . They have a white Bengal tiger there . We have one also . Ours' is named Namasté . It means " Welcome " in Bangladesh . He's white also ( very rare ) . Is this particular elephant Indian or African - American ? Has (s)he ever seen -40ºF ? Oil freezes at that temperature they'ya in ME ( think : sterno ® :)

Bad idea

Re-read the recent NPR exposé on Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus first . They are located in Florida . Look through the pictures also

We are in Hawai'i . Some things go together naturally . Elephants and Maine aren't on that list . It may be okay in OK , doc. ...

h t h ? /s, Steve Dosh and ohana , 96778 u s a

Mark Elliott's picture

Me too....I saw the title and

Me too....I saw the title and thought: "Oh great, what am I in for today?!".......but I was wrong. <--- see I can admit it. I gotta ask, why is it they want to bring an arthritic elephant to cold Maine when most Mainer's know that cold is bad for arthritis?....not to mention separating her from family.


Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...