A 41-year old elephant kept captive, isolated, and chained at a failing Puerto Rican Zoo soon will be relocated to a U.S. elephant sanctuary in Georgia, by order of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Mundi, a female African elephant orphaned after a mass killing in Zimbabwe in 1982, is expected to arrive at the Elephant Refuge North America (ERNA) in Attapulgus on May 4.

ERNA, an 850-acre sanctuary located about 30 miles from Tallahassee, is a project of nonprofit Elephant Aid International, founded by Carol Buckley in 2010 to help captive elephants worldwide.  

Mundi will join two other elephants — Bo, 34, and Tarra, 49 — after spending some time acclimating to her new surroundings from within a 7-acre habitat, where she’ll still be able to interact with her new companions through a fence, ERNA said. 

It’s a stark difference from the elephant’s former environment at a zoo in Mayaguez, where she was confined to a 15,000 square foot space, chained at night, and the only elephant since 1988.


Mundi at the zoo (Courtesy of Elephant Aid International)

Buckley has been advocating for Mundi’s relocation since 2018, when a contract to bring her to ERNA fell through due to government upheaval and turmoil after a hurricane devastated Puerto Rico. 

Elephants suffer psychologically and physically when deprived of the company of their own kind, Buckley told news — adding she can’t wait for Mundi’s arrival.

“I am looking forward to the moment she steps out of that barn into the habitat, looks around, and says, ‘I’m going for it,’ and she walks off into the woods, into the pond, and is comfortable with her environment,” Buckley said in a video posted to ERNA’s website. “What I’m most excited about is when she says, ‘This is for me, I like this, here I go.’”

To get to the sanctuary, Mundi will first fly in a custom-built crate from Puerto Rico to Jacksonville, Florida. She then will be transported by truck to the sanctuary.

ERNA, as a true sanctuary that won’t exploit elephants for people’s “entertainment,” is closed to the public. 

But those interested in checking out the habitat — and maybe even spotting a resident elephant! — can check out ERNA’s live webcams here. You can also read more about Mundi on ERNA’s website here

We’re so happy for Mundi that she will now be able to live out her life happily and in peace!