A 225 acre parcel of land is likely to receive approval for development as an elephant sanctuary near Fellsmere, Florida. Called the National Elephant Center it is the collaborative effort of 73 zoos, for the purpose of taking care of elephants in a natural setting. The first phase of construction could be completed in 2012, and would allow about nine elephants to live there comfortably. Eventually, additional construction will provide accommodations for about forty elephants.
The elephant center is likely to only be open to the public for visits from schools, but there won’t be high walls so hikers, bikers, and joggers should be able to see the elephants in the acreage. There is a commercial aspect to the operation, as some of the elephants will reproduce and their offspring might be used in circuses or zoos.
The idea behind such activity is then less elephants would be captured from the wild for the same uses. While the breeding aspect of the new facility is likely to upset those who feel no elephants should ever be used in circuses or zoos, capturing less from the wild may actually be somewhat of an improvement. Both African and Asian elephants will live there. In some parts of Africa elephants might become extinct due to loss of habitat, and poaching. The National Elephant Center says zoos support 85 elephant research programs, educate millions of people, and provide the majority of funding for the International Elephant Foundation. If you want to sponsor an orphaned elephant, you can do so through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Image Credit: National Elephant Center