Rooted in Hope

Rosie and Opal
Rosie and Opal

Two brothers shared a passion for elephants that began when, as young men, they joined a circus. There they became attached to Rosie and Opal, Asian elephants now more than 40 years old, retired from the circus and in need of special care.

Several years ago the brothers began dreaming about bringing the two to Hope, Maine. Some people thought they were crazy to think of having Rosie and Opal in such an unnatural climate and environment, but persevere did the brothers and their dream became a reality.

Hope ElephantsHope Elephants has become a popular destination for visitors to Maine’s midcoast as well as an educational opportunity for school children throughout Maine.

Hope ElephantsThe facility not only provided a unique and caring environment for Rosie and Opal, it introduced children and adults  to the habits of these marvelous animals and increased awareness of their threatened plight and the importance of protecting wildlife.

Hope ElephantsFor three years, Rosie and Opal have been lovingly tended by one of the brothers whose veterinary skills vastly improved their quality of life. His commitment and dedication to Hope Elephants won admiration from people not only in the local community but throughout the world. Just this week a National Geographic reporter was in Hope to prepare a feature.

The story of Hope Elephants has in the last few days been tragically interrupted. Dr. Jim Laurita fell, hitting his head on a concrete floor. No one was there to witness the accident or what happened next, but this is what we hope is true.

Elephants have a tendency to use their trunks and feet to help an injured herd member. Seeing her loved caregiver down, one of the elephants tried to raise him, planting her foot on his chest and crushing it, causing death by asphyxiation.    Dr. Jim’s death has been ruled accidental, but that doesn’t lessen the impact of this incredibly sad incident.

Because currently there is no backup care for Rosie and Opal, they must be returned, as requested by Dr. Laurita should anything happen to him, to a facility in Oklahoma that cares for retired and aging elephants. They will be missed, but the passionate kindness of Dr. Jim Laurita will long be remembered.  It is hoped that one day Rosie and Opal or other elephants who need the special kind of care given at Hope Elephants will return.

Should any of you reading this post be touched by this story and wish to learn about a foundation established to honor Dr. Laurita and continue his work, you may learn more here.

i so appreciate your taking time to read this story

6 thoughts on “Rooted in Hope

  1. Oh how very tragic!!…Such a great man who wanted to save Opal and Rosie…Thanks for bringing this to us…

  2. So sad to see the story of his death in our local news 😦

  3. What a touching, yet sad story. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us.

  4. Oh my goodness that’s just sad.

  5. So glad you are spreading the wonderful story of Hope Elephants to all your devoted readers—-an incredible , tragic story. .

  6. What a great story and cause, LuLu. Thanks for creating awareness of and around the need and opportunity.

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