Everything Bo
Bo and Mala playing
Bo and Mala the dog became friends immediately

On August 23rd, after nearly two-and-a-half years of discussions, George Carden surprised us by deciding to retire his 34-year-old male Asian elephant Bo to Elephant Refuge North America (ERNA).

We had discussed with George that retiring the four females first would give us time to raise funds and construct reinforced facilities for Bo. However, George decided it was in Bo's best interest to retire him immediately.

George had a very small window of time when Bo’s transport trailer, driver and handler were available. If we wanted Bo, we had to be ready to receive him on September 23rd.

The pressure was on. We had one month to agree on the contract, design fence reinforcement, find a contractor to make the renovations and raise the funds to pay for it.

A whirlwind of preparations

We went from 0 to 60 in a split second, and we’ve not slowed down since!

Our motto became, “Everything Bo!”
Reinforcing fence with steel pipe
Installing water line to trough
Sealing Bo's pond
For the fence, Richard and Scott of Conoly Steel secured and prepared the steel pipe, while Gary Duncan of The Fence Man and his team drove 6-inch steel pipe 4 feet into the ground.
Scott Conoly was hot on their heels, delaying another job so he could weld the top rail.

John Fisher of Fisher Irrigation also postponed a scheduled job in order to plumb Bo’s new 70-gallon auto fill water trough.

And a huge thank you to Jimmy Boyett, owner of Attapulgus-based Cherokee Equipment, who brought his crew to condition Bo’s pond to retain water.

While all this was happening, we also had to complete the transfer contract so we could announce Bo’s arrival and raise $123,000 for the reinforced fencing.

It rained nearly every day, raising concerns. In addition to possible delays in progress, we worried the welders could be shocked from working in wet conditions, or equipment might get stuck in the Georgia clay.

Thanks to our local businesses, by 7 pm September 22nd, everything was complete. Heaving a collective sigh of relief, we were ready for Bo’s arrival the following day.

Bo’s Big Day
Click the image above to watch video

The day dawned sunny and clear on September 23rd as Bo and his escorts journeyed from Missouri to Georgia. Invited media arrived at the Refuge. Allison Argo of Argo Films, Adam Sugalski a FAA-certified drone pilot, and Ethan Lovett from our local Summerhill Creative set up their cameras and launched drones to cover every angle of Bo’s momentous arrival.

As the excited group stood in the noonday sun, Bo’s escorts called to report they were 30 minutes out.

And then…

We caught our first glimpse of the truck and trailer carrying the Refuge’s first resident. What a thrill!

Bo’s custom trailer pulled into place and several members of his team calmly prepared for him to disembark. They opened the hefty screen door.

Before us stood the most impressive elephant most of us had ever seen.

After a few seconds, Bo stepped out onto the grass. With the encouragement of a few voice commands, he casually walked straight into his habitat. Fifteen minutes later, Bo left his crowd of admirers behind and disappeared into the dense wooded area to explore.
George and crew take Bo some hay
Bo quickly gets comfortable in his new habitat
Bo settled in quickly, establishing a routine of grazing, bathing, disappearing into woods and sleeping under the stars. It’s as though he’s always been here.

George and his crew stayed for two days, eager to ensure Bo’s transition went smoothly. They proudly wore Elephant Refuge North America t-shirts and helped to feed Bo, while sharing valuable insight into Bo’s personality and preferences.

On Saturday, a team of neighbors combined resources to refill Bo’s pond—more water equals more play!
Big rigs with water for Bo's pond
Team of neighbors in action refilling Bo's pond.
Jimmy Boyett orchestrated the team consisting of Billy Brown with a fire truck tanker; Cotton Barker and Dale Medley with Cherokee Equipment’s water truck; Tito Sanchez with their semi-tanker; and Thomas Patzan managing the hoses. 

After the three tankers made three trips each, Bo’s pond was full of 35,000 gallons of fresh cool water.
Bo having fun with his ball by the pond
Be Like Bo  
Eating well is good for everyone including Bo who eats close to 200 pounds of food each day!

Bo’s 100-acre natural habitat provides unlimited amounts of live vegetation including a wide variety of grasses, bamboo, tree branches and vines, all edible, all naturally nutritious.
As Bo adapts to his new-found freedom and his system adjusts to fresh live vegetation, he will receive supplemental hay, grain and produce. In the short winter of South Georgia, when grasses are dormant, Bo’s supplemental hay will increase by 60%.
To ensure Bo’s diet is balanced, we feed Mazuri Elephant Supplement, a pelleted food that provides proper intake of essential vitamins and minerals for a roughage-based diet like Bo’s.

Daily Cost to Feed Bo:
  • Mazuri Elephant Supplement = $10
  • 100 pounds of hay = $25
  • Assorted produce = $20

Please help us ensure Bo gets the very best nutrition with a contribution to Elephant Refuge North America (ERNA). Consider becoming a sustaining EleMember to help us cover the cost of Bo’s food every month.

Every donation, no matter the size, is greatly appreciated and helps us take care of Bo!
ERNA Visitation Policy
At ERNA, the needs of elephants come first. As an elephant refuge operating under an authentic sanctuary philosophy, ERNA is not open to the general public and there will be no physical interaction between the elephants and the volunteers. We recognize the value of observing elephants and strive to educate the public through the use of our live streaming video cameras located throughout the habitat. These cameras enable people to watch the elephants unobtrusively and ensures the elephants’ privacy while providing a window into the world of natural elephant behavior.
Volunteer Program
ERNA’s Volunteer Days Program will resume in late fall/early winter. If you would like to be notified when new volunteer dates and signup are available, please fill out the form available on our Volunteer page.
As always, we greatly appreciate your interest, commitment and help. You make our work for elephants possible. Thank you!
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