Bo turns 35 on January 22, 2022. Help us celebrate his birthday with a gift of health. We're raising $20,000 for state-of-the-art cold laser therapy equipment to ensure Bo and the other residents of Elephant Refuge North America (ERNA) have access to the best tools to maintain their health as they age.

We know the exact date of Bo's birth because he was born at Bush Garden’s breeding center in Florida. Both of his parents, Vance and Sid (Sue), were wild born, then unfortunately, captured and brought to America. Due to a lack of documentation, we don’t know their place of origin, only that they were captured somewhere in Southeast Asia.

At approximately one year old, Bo was sold to an animal trainer in Southern California who used him for work in television and movies. Records indicate Bo soon became unmanageable. At age five, he was again sold, this time to George Carden.

Being part of an elephant family once again, Bo excelled. Living in a group of female elephants was familiar and reassuring to him. Being the baby, the middle-aged females mothered Bo while teaching him valuable social skills.

Shortly after, Bo underwent surgical castration, an extremely invasive procedure for male elephants that requires weeks of follow up care. George Carden tended to Bo’s healing incisions daily, resulting in Bo’s full recovery and the forging of a very strong bond between the two.

For 29 years, all the elephants traveled and performed in the family circus. Bo became a well sought-after headliner for the biggest shows.
Click the image above to watch Bo's arrival.

Then COVID hit. Bo and the other elephants remained at home for over a year. When work did resume, Bo did not go back out on the road. George had decided to retire him.

Retiring Bo at age 34 was a bold decision and unheard of in both the zoo and circus worlds. Bo was a star performer in the prime of his life, able to continue working for at least two more decades, maybe more. But George wanted what was best for Bo. He was thrilled when he discovered Bo could retire to Elephant Refuge North America (ERNA). Others wanted Bo, and even offered to buy him, but George turned them down.

Out of great love and respect, George released Bo to spend the remainder of his life experiencing true freedom under the warm Georgia sun.
Now it is our job to ensure Bo lives his best life. This includes regular veterinary checkups, a healthy diet, self-directed exercise and non-invasive therapies. It is understandable after three decades of performing high-powered athletic feats, Bo would benefit from cold laser therapy to promote joint health and keep him pain free. Now is the time to start such therapy while Bo is extremely active. You can help us purchase this equipment and give Bo (and his other 4-legged friends) the gift of health for decades to come.
Enjoying ERNA's long grasses
Having a good romp with Mala
Scratching with delight
Bo has been at Elephant Refuge North America for 4 months. We are thrilled with his keen ability to adapt to this new environment. He is calm and comfortable with his new people, finds feisty Mala the dog an enjoyable playmate, and shows complete ease around Tarra, his new retirement-buddy. But what is most impressive is his transition into this retirement lifestyle focused on autonomy.
It appears Bo fully understands he has the freedom to make his own choices. Within the parameters of the habitat, Bo comes and goes at will. Since Tarra’s arrival, we have seen a shift in his behavior. Bo used to return to the barn midday to nap, but that has changed. Now he naps in the habitat with Tarra close by.

Watching this mild-mannered guy go from being led to leading, is exactly how autonomy works.

Bo is the perfect elephant to introduce Tarra to her new environment. They spend hours close together every morning, grazing and browsing while Bo waits patiently for Tarra to initiate contact.

When Tarra approaches (imagine the beep, beep, beep of a reversing dump truck and you’ve got the picture) choosing to be in Bo’s personal space, he knows he can interact with her. It is precious to watch their relationship develop and observe Bo’s patience and gentle touch.
Mala completes the threesome. She walks under elephant bellies and between their legs, lies in Tarra’s shade, or entices Bo to play. Mala knows that when Bo chirps, he’s having fun. She dashes around his legs, jumps up and pretends to grab his trunk. Bo responds by chasing after her playfully.

In the short time Bo has been at the refuge, his progress is remarkable. He is a retired performer living the life of a king, with friends Tarra and Mala by his side.
Together we can ensure Bo lives his best life. Won't you help? Please donate towards the cold laser treatment equipment. Thank you so much for your support.
As always, we greatly appreciate your interest, commitment and help. You make our work for elephants possible. Thank you!
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