Auckland SPCA executive director Bob Kerridge called the death “a tragic accident” and said he did not believe it was a deliberate attack. SAFE (Save Animals from Exploitation) director Hans Kriek had been working with the zoo to find another home for Mila. He hopes she will still be sent to the California sanctuary and said:
The ideal outcome is that Mila live the rest of her life with other elephants, to enable her to fully rehabilitate. That’s the key thing with elephants, they need to live with other elephants because they are such social animals.
While the investigation is underway, no one can say what Mila’s fate will be, though there is a possibility she will be put down. A report in the Sydney Morning Herald says she often suffered panic attacks at night, and Dr. Schofield would comfort her.
The 39-year-old elephant spent 28 years traveling in cramped trailers, performing for audiences that probably gave little thought to her welfare in or out of the ring. Since 2009, she has lived a solitary life at the sanctuary. Her history may make it impossible for her to find peace. And nothing will bring back the woman who was trying to prepare Mila to finally enjoy life in the company of other elephants.
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Photo of baby circus elephant in training from Wikimedia Commons; photo of African elephant from alex.coles via Flickr Creative Commons
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