Circus elephants retired from The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have begun arriving at a pseudo-sanctuary in Florida. 12 female Asian elephants have already arrived at the White Oak Conservation Center, located in Yulee, with up to 20 more elephants expected.
According to the White Oak Conservation Center’s website, their mission is to “Save endangered wildlife and habitats through sustainable conservation breeding, education and responsible land stewardship.”
In the past seven years, White Oak Conservation Center has been inspected by the USDA four times and has not been inspected at all in the past two years.
Barbara Trask Lovett is the president of Save Nosey Now and she sits on the board of directors of The Elephant Advocacy project. She said there is optimism that moving the elephants to White Oak Conservation Center will allow them to live better, freer lives.
"The downside is that White Oak will be involved in research activities with the elephants and will also be breeding those elephants who can be bred. In that respect, they are no better than a zoo," she said.
Lovett referenced a statement made by a White Oak Representative on Talking Animals Radio.
"Of those 34 elephants set to move to White Oak, 16 are female, and of those, 13 will be made available for breeding," the representative said in the interview. "Some of the resulting offspring will be sent to zoos or other facilities that house captive animals; none will be released into the wild."
Several people expressed their frustration that the circus elephants were not moved to a true sanctuary.
“They are not going to [a] true sanctuary so they will still not get the treatment they deserve,” one commenter said. “And to breed them so a whole new generation can grow up in confinement is just cruel. Stop thinking about the pleasure of humans and start thinking about the animals and what they need. This is not it.”