Mundi's Home

After five years of delays, plus two weeks of attempted sabotage, Mundi arrived at Elephant Refuge North America (ERNA) safe and sound. Like a made-for-TV drama, complete with death threats, betrayals, physical attacks, and armed federal intervention, Mundi’s last days at the zoo in Puerto Rico, where she lived alone for 35 years, sparked outrage with a group who did not love her enough to let her go.

A small population, mostly zoo employees and administration, supported by the local government, announced on the internet that they were “Willing to do anything to make sure Mundi did not leave the island.”

Mundi is a beloved icon of Puerto Rico, so inflicting harm on her to ensure she did not leave seemed seriously misguided. Her crate training proceeded beautifully. After one week, it was clear Mundi had adapted to the transport crate and was ready to depart. But then the irrational behavior of locals, determined to prevent her departure, reached a dangerous level.

The Feds were called in. It was a frightening time. Once inside, Mundi appeared calm in her crate, even eating and drinking along the way from Puerto Rico to Florida via plane, and then the trip by truck to the Refuge.

The good news is that Mundi is home. She appears healthy, acts content, displays behavior indicating she is comfortable with her surroundings.
Mundi Enjoying the Pond
This past Saturday, after two weeks of interacting over a fence with Bo and Tarra, Mundi was released to the larger habitat. Without hesitation, like she had Tarra on an internal GPS, Mundi took a brisk mile hike directly to the location where Tarra was grazing. Their meeting was unhurried, unworried, and physically affectionate. They melted into each other as if they’d been friends for years. Their introduction was a complete success.
Mundi and Tarra became Fast Friends

The next day Bo returned from his sojourn in the far reaches of the 750 acre habitat and headed directly to the last place he’d seen Mundi. When he discovered she wasn’t there, he leisurely ambled away. Within minutes of his presence, Mundi came looking for him. Their initial greeting was initiated by Mundi, soft, friendly, face-to-face. They placed their trunks over each other’s heads and back and engaged in normal physical activity. Then something must have been said because Mundi turned her back on Bo and began to slowly walk away. Bo followed, but slowly, not quite keeping up with her pace. It seemed obvious he wanted more face time. The remainder of the day was interesting to observe. Mundi wanted to approach Bo but would retreat if he showed interest. It was a bit of a cat and mouse interaction, with no aggression, no serious pursuit, just gentle interest and much practiced patience on Bo’s part.

The next morning all three were found grazing peacefully in the same pasture, seemingly completely comfortable with each other. 
The Elephant Trio
After a lifetime of 35 years, Mundi now has access to a large 850 acre natural habitat. She rubs on trees, covers herself in rich, wet Georgia clay, wallows in her pond, and explores the woods and pastures her personal habitat provides. Most importantly, everything she does is her decision. Mundi is no longer managed with an elephant hook, dominated, or forced to do anything she doesn’t want to. She has autonomy for the first time in her captive life. Mundi is as free as a captive-held elephant can be.

Relationships are without question of premier importance to elephants. Mundi is currently working on many. Her trust in Carol and Laura, her caregivers, is growing. Each day we observe the relationships between all three grow and deepen.

We are thankful to all our loyal supporters for welcoming Mundi to ERNA, for The Wild Animal Sanctuary for covering the enormous cost of flying Mundi to her new home, and for the many groups who provided financial support to ensure Mundi’s trip was safe and her future secure. The majority of Puerto Ricans support Mundi’s move. Their efforts over the last 5+ years helped bring about not only Mundi’s rescue but also that of all the animals at the zoo. Mundi’s devoted following are active on social media and the EleCam and contribute to her care. We are grateful for their determination to give Mundi a better life. 

Watching Tarra, Bo, and Mundi interact over the fence line each day those first two weeks, and now seeing them grazing side by side or within sight of each other, trusting one another more and more, brings us great joy. Thank you for making Mundi’s future bright!
Happy Grazing
Mundi has Landed in Elephant Paradise!
Now it is time to give her the life she deserves. Supporters from Georgia to Puerto Rico and abroad have contributed to Mundi’s first year of care. It has been an outpouring of love from those who have known her for 35 years to those who have followed her rescue from afar.
The cost of Mundi’s care for a year is $145,000, which covers food, supplements, veterinary care, caregivers, and fuel for the 4-wheeler that makes multiple daily trips into the habitat to deliver food and care. With $71,844 raised so far, we are at 50% of our goal. Can you help care for Mundi? Your donation makes a difference.
Since her arrival, Mundi appears to have settled in at the Refuge. No more nervous pacing as she did all day long at the zoo. Only casual exploration of her vast new habitat where she plays in the pond, covers herself in skin-rejuvenating mud, naps in the sun, scratches on trees, grazes to her heart's content, and becomes acquainted with her new friends, Tarra and Bo.
Last month, we stocked up on supplies for Mundi and built an additional pond and wide mud wallow—African elephants love the mud! Now we need to install a solar-powered well and expand our EleCam system for the unobtrusive observation of your beloved Mundi.
By contributing to A Year of Care for Mundi, you will become a member of her family, ensuring her bright future.
We hope you’ll join us in giving this resilient elephant the care she deserves. Every donation counts and helps us provide the best life for the elephants who call the Refuge home.

Blossoming Friendships: Elephant Update
Tarra and Bo; a Flourishing Friendship
Tarra and Bo continue to flourish, growing closer each day. Their affectionate body rubs, ear scratches, and trunk hugs are now commonplace. Tarra’s complete ease around Bo is a joy to behold, considering she has never before, in her 49 years, felt this comfortable around another elephant. Whatever it is about Bo that makes Tarra feel so safe and loved will very likely extend to Mundi now that they share the same vast space at the Refuge.

It is endearing to watch Tarra glide the tip of her trunk across Bo’s, then pull him towards her. He never tries to pull away, instead, he melts into her, rubbing his huge head across her side, leaning on her until she slides out from under his massive weight. Tarra’s affection towards Bo is a side previously reserved for her beloved dogs. In contrast to past behavior, Tarra approaches Bo with complete abandon, secure in knowing he has no intention of harming her.
Tarra and Bo Enjoying the Sunshine and Each Other
Over this past month, the pastures and wooded areas have exploded with lush green grasses, edible vines, and tasty young saplings. All this live vegetation is fodder for elephants, who naturally eat 20 hours a day. Midday, with a full belly and nearby friend, Bo folds onto the ground for a well-deserved nap. Many days he and Tarra can be found catnapping while standing under the shade of an oak tree, leaning on each other, eyes fluttering, trunks limp, hanging to the ground.
Bo and Tarra Catnapping
The first two weeks after Mundi’s arrival, all three shared time together, Mundi on one side of the fence, Tarra and Bo on the other. From day one, it was clear Tarra and Mundi had no desire to intimidate or control each other. We could not ask for more in anticipation of them being able to live together. When meeting Bo, Mundi took on a different attitude, more defensive and controlling. No doubt Bo’s size was intimidating. When they reached out to touch each other, Mundi flared her ears and pushed against Bo’s trunk. Bo held his ground. He was not aggressive but not submissive either. Bo seemed to be showing that he had no intention of hurting her but that he wasn’t going to be pushed around either. 
Tarra and Mundi Getting to Know Each Other
We know from their histories that Mundi was attacked after being brought into captivity, and Bo was bossed around by an older female elephant in his captive herd. Both were reacting according to their past experiences. But over their second week, we saw a serious softening of their approach to each other.

One afternoon that week, Bo spent nearly 5 hours with Mundi, repeatedly reaching over the fence to interact with her. It was obvious their interest in each other was deepening, and from Mundi’s playful response, she was growing more comfortable with Bo.

That was then. Check out EAI's Facebook page and/or YouTube channel to learn the rest of the glorious story!
Bo and Mundi's Interest Deepens
Meet Laura—Putting the Care in Caregiver
It takes a special kind of person to work well with elephants. Patience to step back and allow the elephants to reveal what they need or want, observe their body language, and only involve yourself in their lives to the extent each elephant desires. Laura is that person.

As part of our caregiving team at the Refuge since Bo and then Tarra's arrival, Laura came to EAI with experience working in a zoo with Asian elephants and as lead animal keeper at a wildlife facility that was open to the public.

We asked Laura to share what it is like to be an elephant caregiver. Her answers to the questions below reveal why she is such a perfect fit for the job:

1: What is your favorite part of being a caregiver?

"I find animal behavior fascinating. I love observing Tarra, Bo, and now Mundi. I love listening to the sounds they make, seeing where they like to spend their time, watching them take mud baths, swim, graze, interact with the dogs, and anything they do. It's endlessly fascinating. As well as building a relationship with the elephants, it's magical."

2: What does being a caregiver mean to you?

"It means I have a responsibility to provide the best life possible for the animals I work with. It's a passion, a calling, and it is necessary rain, shine, hot or cold, to show up and meet the needs of our elephants so they can thrive and do what elephants do best."

3: What does a typical day include?

"A typical day involves feeding the elephants, cleaning water troughs, cleaning habitats, cleaning the barn, dishes, getting/sorting produce, working with volunteers, cutting/collecting extra browse, making diets, working on maintenance projects, and whatever else the day brings."

4: What does it take to be a good elephant caregiver?

"To be a good elephant caregiver, you must have heart or a passion/love of elephants. It's the fuel that makes all the hard work possible. This job has a lot of challenges—everything is heavy, you are out in the elements, it can be dirty, but if you love them, it makes every single thing you do during the day worth it."

From Bo, Tarra and Mundi, as well as the staff at the Refuge and EAI, we thank Laura for her heartfelt care and dedication.
2023 EAI Essay Contest Winners
We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Elephant Aid International Essay Contest. The quality and creativity of all the entries was incredible, and we appreciate the hard work each student put into their pieces.

First Place:

Ella Yang, Greenacres Elementary School, New York

Read Ella's award-winning essay “Bo's New Discovery.

Second Place:

Sawoo Youn, Sugarloaf Elementary School, Maryland

Third Place:

Ian Kim, Westpark Elementary School, California



First Place:

Aditi Ramkumar, SRI Sri Ravishankar Vidya, Mulund, India

Read Aditi's award-winning essay “The Mighty Need A Helping Hand!

Second Place:

Cedrica Sevuri, Walker Mill Middle School, Maryland

Third Place:

Zayne Omijeh, Walker Mill Middle School, Maryland
A Special Thank You - Subscriber Premiere Video
Watch Mundi take her first steps out into the 100-acre habitat to join Bo and Tarra in their wild adventures.. 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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