Last Performing Circus Elephant in Chile is Moved to a Sanctuary

Ramba is finally home!


(Courtesy Global Sanctuary for Elephants)

There is a growing movement around the globe that believe that elephants should not be held in circuses and made to perform for people's entertainment. Many countries around the world – including five in South America –  no longer allow this practice.

But what do you do if you can rescue a circus animal and there is no protected place for her animals to go to where to live out the remainder of her life? The answer is to build an animal sanctuary. And that's what happened to a very special Asian elephant named Ramba.

She spent 50 lonely years before she finally made a 4-day, 2,551-mile (4,105 kilometer) journey by airplane and trucks to a new 2,800-acre elephant sanctuary in Chapada dos Guimarães Brazil (ESB).

Ramba was, until very recently, the last remaining circus elephant in Chile. She was confiscated from her circus home in 1997 due to animal abuse and neglect but she remained with the circus (but didn't perform) because there was no place to go according to the NGO Global Sanctuary for Elephants (GSE).

Sadly, there are 15,000 to 20,000 captive elephants around the world and far too few elephant sanctuaries.

In 2012, Ecopoli – an animal welfare NGO in Chile – started working to have Ramba removed from the circus. When efforts to re-home her in an elephant sanctuary in the US failed, the organization asked Global sanctuary to help.

Elephant experts and GSE's founders Scott Blais and Kat Blais came to Ramba's aide and successfully moved her first to a roadside zoo because there was no elephant sanctuary in South America until the one in Brazil was built in 2016 and then her last journey to Brazil.

“Ramba needs a quiet place, one where she feels safe and is not on display, where she is surrounded by others of her kind who truly understand her and can help her to open her heart fully—she needs sanctuary,” Blais said

Throughout the long journey, Ramba was escorted by animal welfare experts who took care of her every step of the way. She arrived at her new home on October 19, 2019.

The goal of GSE is to create a global coalition that will ensure a safe and humane future for all captive elephants through the development of natural habitat elephant sanctuaries. The Brazilian sanctuary is their first. Right now, three elephants— Maia, Rana and now Ramba are residing there.

The three are living in the Asian female habitat. At this time, this habitat can house 8-10 elephants and there are plans to have separate habitats for both elephant species and sexes.

Animals should not have to be forced to live out their lives providing entertainment in circuses and roadside zoos. Animals need sanctuary not applause.  There are far too many countries in the world that still allow this practice including the US and this should be one of the next great issues for animal rights activists to tackle.

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