The Birthday Boy
We know the exact date of Bo's birth because he was born at Bush Garden's breeding center in Florida. 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 caught 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 sold to George Carden.
Bo was once again a member of an elephant family. 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 requiring weeks of follow-up care. George tended to Bo's healing incisions daily, resulting in Bo's full recovery and forging a strong bond between the two.
Bo traveled and performed in the family circus for 29 years, becoming a sought-after headliner.

Then COVID hit. Bo and the other elephants remained at home for over a year. When work resumed, Bo did not go back out on the road. George had decided to retire him. Retiring Bo at age 34 was a bold decision, unheard of in both the zoo and circus worlds. George was thrilled when he discovered Bo could retire to Elephant Refuge North America (ERNA). Out of great love and respect, George released Bo to ERNA on September 23rd, 2021, to spend the remainder of his life experiencing true freedom under the warm Georgia sun.
Another Year of Heartwarming Progress
As Bo enters his 37th year we reflect on how fortunate we are he retired to Elephant Refuge North America (ERNA).
Through your support of our EleCams we’ve been able to observe Bo without disturbing or influencing his behavior. Thanks to you Bo was able to come to ERNA and because of your continued support—he is thriving. He continues to open up, demonstrating he feels safe, heard, and understood.
Mud means playtime
The fabulous four in the forest
Over this past year Bo has become quite vocal, talking to his caregivers, Tarra, and his dogs.

His canine family doubled when Samie, a stray, arrived a few months ago. There is a noticeable difference in how Bo plays with Mala and Samie (who prefers to get close to Bo’s nose for a sniff and then stands a few feet away howling, begging him to play).

Bo is healthy, content, and has a new multispecies family with whom he is quite comfortable.
ATVs make great dog step stools for elephant face time
A sunny stroll with Carol, Bo & Samie
Grazing the pastures is Bo’s favorite activity, but playing in the ponds is a close second. Each day he sloshes across the clay (attapulgite) pond, stopping to munch on the vegetation growing on the small island in the center. As he climbs the embankment to exit the pond, he appears to be wearing light grey ankle soaks from the attapulgite, a distinctive residue from the pond. In addition to the natural behavior enrichment and abundant live growing browse the pond provides, we have been told attapulgite contains anti-inflammatory and gut flora enhancing properties. A testament to the benefits of a diverse habitat!
Lake loving Bo
Tarra leads Bo on an exploration
Bo has grown quite close to Tarra, and often spends time interacting with her. Tarra dictates the degree of physical interaction, which varies from day to day, keeping Bo guessing. He seems to take her changing mood in stride, perhaps the benefit of growing up with four auntie elephants. He is extremely predicable, calm, cool, and respectful—a dream companion.
Affectionate elephants Tarra and Bo
Bo has been patient with Tarra in every way, including when she is “stealing” his hay. He allows her to “share” but skillfully retrieves the stolen food after she creates an enormous pile for herself. The hay sharing dance goes on for hours and is enjoyable to watch. You too can watch via the EleCam around 9am EST, and again at 5pm, if Bo and Tarra are in camera range.
Even with all the hay sharing, Bo has managed to gain some weight, which was intentional and has benefited him during chilly winter nights. He always has access to the warm barn when the weather gets cold, but we’ve noticed he comes in for shorter periods of time at night, or not at all.
Bo and his veggie snacks
We’ll never know if Bo’s early castration helped to create his Zen-like attitude, but we feel blessed by his presence. His calm demeanor, open communication, and cooperative nature reinforce that he is indeed a gentle giant.
Bo enjoys a moonlit stroll
Celebrate Bo’s Birthday and Help Keep the Elephant Barn Fresh and Clean
Bo and Tarra love their comfortable sand stalls, and now you can help keep their barn clean!
Elephants drink 30+ gallons of water a day and consume nearly 200 lbs of food, resulting in lots of clean up.
With winter upon us, Bo and Tarra spend part of the night in their warm barn. To remove the urine-soaked sand our staff and volunteers must shovel the soiled sand by hand, lifting each heavy load up and over the sides of a dump wagon. These dedicated elephant lovers are the backbone of EAI, but with effective equipment, their work doesn’t have to be back-breaking.
With your help, we can purchase a portable mini conveyor so sand can be loaded at floor level where the conveyor will carry it straight into the dump wagon. This will prevent injury to our hard working staff and volunteers, save hours of labor, and ensure a spotlessly clean barn. And since our goal is to recycle and reuse whenever possible, the sand is used as fill for non-elephant areas of the property.

Will you celebrate Bo’s birthday by chipping in for the conveyor?
Thanks to our generous supporters, we are 70% of the way to our URGENT goal of $6,244. To learn more and help purchase this essential equipment:
Every donation is greatly appreciated so our staff and volunteers have the tools they need to give our elephant residents their best life.
We know Bo holds a special place in your heart, and now is your chance to become his sponsor. You can choose an annual sponsorship of $75 or sponsor Bo every month of the year with a recurring donation of your choice. You'll receive a sponsorship certificate that includes a photo of Bo and five fun facts about him delivered via eco-friendly email.
By sponsoring Bo, you can help ensure we have everything we need to provide the highest level of care and give Bo his best life ever – from tailored dietary supplements to sophisticated medical equipment and tools used for facility maintenance – and so much more.
Thank you very much for your kind support!
Bo Commemorative T-Shirt
Step out in style wearing our commemorative T-shirt celebrating Bo’s First Year of Retirement. Bo stands majestic and beautiful as the focal point of this design created in his honor. Stock and sizes are limited.
A Special Subscriber Thank You from Bo
We would like to show our appreciation for your continued interest with an early sneak peek video of Bo enjoying his magical habitat at Elephant Refuge North America.

Click the image above to watch!
As always, we greatly appreciate your interest, commitment and help. You make our work for elephants possible. Thank you!
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