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THE FIVE LONELIEST ELEPHANTS
IN THE UNITED STATES

LEARN MORE ABOUT ASHA, BUBBLES,
MINNIE, LADY ESSEX & OKHA

ACT NOW

Elephants should never be alone.

Imagine a female elephant in the wild. What comes to mind? Likely a herd sharing responsibilities for raising their young. That's because female elephants in the wild generally stay with their families for their entire lives. Every herd is led by a matriarch who offers food, protection, and guidance. If one of the members of the herd falls

ill or is giving birth, the rest of the herd forms a
circle around her to ensure her safety. There is
not only physical protection in the group, but
emotional too. A 2019 study found that a

female elephant in a large herd
experiences 
less stress
than those without, particularly for
those with many calves to mind and keep safe. Even the Association of Zoos and Aquariums require groupings of elephants for accreditation.

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Circle of Life by David Yarrow

Now imagine a female elephant in the circus. She was born in the wild and torn away from her natural environment to which all of her senses are attuned. After a terrifying plane ride, she's landed in the U.S. in the hands of a greedy human profiteer.

From a young age,
ropes, chains, confinement, and beatings defined her existence. She was forced to conform to the grotesque desire for demonstrations of subservience as a form of human entertainment.

She's spent decades performing countless shows and walking in circles giving rides. She's been stuck in a transport truck for tens of thousands of miles. She's never known the life she was torn from: 
all of the profit of her vile captor.

Now over 40 years old, her companions have all died or been given away. She has no herd, no elephant friends, no security, no miles to roam, and no protection from being used as a photo prop or circus act or from being confined in a bleak jail cell. 

It is our contention that language already exists within the federal Animal Welfare Act sufficient to take action for privately owned, singly-held elephants.
Join us, and over SEVENTY veterinarians, in asking the USDA to ACT NOW for these wonderful elephants who deserve justice and a better life.
 

Meet the ladies.

ASHA

Asha (also known as Beautiful)

 

Captured: 1985

Approximate age: 41

Alone since: 1985, but moved in November 2023. See below for more information.

Asha was/is owned by Natural Bridge Zoo in Virginia.

 

She was born in the wilds of Zimbabwe and shipped to the USA at approximately two years of age after her herd was horrifically slaughtered in 1985.

 

Asha has been forced to give rides to paying tourists for almost 40 years and is kept chained in a crumbling barn throughout freezing Virginia winters. 

Informants and undercover officers noted that Asha had marks on her skin indicating that she had been prodded or beaten. She was also regularly forced to carry excessive numbers of individuals on her back for rides.

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In December 2023, Natural Bridge Zoo was served with a search warrant for animal cruelty allegations, heavily focused on elephant handler Mark Easley. Many living and deceased animals were seized from the property. Natural Bridge Zoo is now listed as “temporarily closed” whilst in court. The zoo has requested a post-trial hearing for April 4, 2024. Thus far, 71 animals have been confiscated by the county.

 

Suspiciously, just a week before the USDA's December raid at Natural Bridge Zoo, Asha was shipped to Two Tails Ranch in FloridaIt is unknown whether Asha will be returned to Natural Bridge Zoo if they resume operations or remain at Two Tails Ranch.

 

While there are five other elephants at Two Tails Ranch, it is unclear where Asha is being kept and if she is with other elephants. We are especially concerned because in 2018 an elephant named Anna Louise, who CWI had advocated for for many years, was sent to Two Tails. In a matter of weeks, she was dead and no necropsy was performed. Asha deserves the security of sanctuary and the certainty of living with her own species. 

Bubbles

Captured: 1983 at few months of age 

Approximate age: 41 

Alone since: 1983

Bubbles is owned by T.I.G.E.R.S. in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She was born in 1983 in Africa and sold to Hollywild Animal Park. Less than a year later, she was purchased by animal trainer Bhagavan Antle, aka “Doc” (who you may remember from The Tiger King docuseries), and has been kept as a solitary elephant ever since.


Bubbles rose to fame when Myrtle Beach Safari promoted Bubbles as having a dog friend named Bella. The fact that Bubbles was a lone elephant was swept under the carpet by Myrtle Beach and the general public thanks to that "adorable" story, which also conveniently attracted a lot of paying customers to the safari.

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While Doc Antle went on to plead guilty to federal charges involving money laundering and wildlife trafficking, Bubbles continues to be exploited for “elephant swim” packages, advertised as $7000 for two people, and is forced to give rides at local events. She has been used in movies such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Dr. Dolittle, music videos, and advertising. 

It's time Doc, the Antle family and Myrtle Beach Safari stopped using Bubbles as a money-making prop and allowed her to move to a place where she is able to interact with other elephants.

BUBBLES
LADY ESSEX

Lady Essex (formerly known as Annette Marie)

Captured: 1960

Approximate age: 64-67

Alone since: 2014

Lady Essex is owned by Lauryn Murray of Elephant Walk - rebranded as “Elephant Oasis,” in Florida. Lauryn inherited Essex from father, Frank Murray. Frank Murray was charged with four counts of cruelty to animals in 1996 and was arrested for “inflicting unnecessary cruelty towards a living animal and not providing proper sustenance to a living animal” in 2012. 


Essex was captured in Asia in 1960 (making her the oldest elephant on this list). She was passed around a bit, housed for 5 years at the Audubon Zoo in New

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Orleans, then she was sent to Elephant Walk in 1983, where she remains to this day. Her companion elephant Topsy, died in 2014, leaving her alone the last 10 years. For years, she was trucked around the US to Renaissance Faires and forced to give rides.

She is still performing unnatural tricks, used as a photo prop, and in other money making schemes by social media obsessed Lauryn. Lady Essex has even grotesquely been used as a “walking billboard” at a Trump rally. Regardless of your political persuasion, it is easy to see how disgusting and exploitative this is. It's time she was able to develop true friendships with others of her kind and left out of selfie reels and money making scams.

MINNIE

Minnie

Captured: 1969

Approximate age: 55

Alone since: 2019

Minnie is owned by R.W. Commerford & Sons in Goshen, Connecticut. She was captured from Thailand as a baby and sold by a wildlife importer in Miami to the Commerford family. The facility has a history of more than 50 USDA citations. Minnie is housed on cement, in a small dark barn.

 

She has been alone since her companions Karen and Beulah both died in 2019, after being forced to keep performing even when it was known they were ill.​

Minnie has been forced to give rides at carnivals, parades, and at the zoo itself. She has reportedly been involved in at least four

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incidents resulting in human injury, such as a broken arm/chest injury caused to two circus employees in 2006.

Pathetically, her captors launched a GoFundMe during the COVID19 pandemic to pay for animal care expenses allegedly, but only raised about $2000. The Commerfords have been keeping Minnie off the road and hidden from public view for the last couple of years after extensive protesting by CWI and other local activists and organizations.

OKHA

Okha

 

Captured: 1970

Approximate age: 54

Alone since: 2022

Okha is owned by Brian Franzen of Franzen Bros Circus.

 

She was born in the wild in India in 1970. She is one of few elephants in the world that has been trained to (dangerously) balance on a ball, sometimes with a rider on her back, although she has not been recorded doing this recently, possibly due to age, arthritis changes, or an unknown reason.

 

She has toured recently with Loomis Bros Circus and now with the ominously named “Mysterious Circus.” CWI has noted that Okha is increasingly unwilling or unable to perform the same tricks she used to do, and the circus performances have been continuously modified to accommodate. Sadly, she is still sometimes forced to give rides.

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Franzen used to own two other elephants: Kosti and Megue. Megue was transferred to a Six Flags location. Kosti was moved to Memphis Zoo. Yet Franzen, with no compassion whatsoever, has left Okha alone without her elephant companions in order to continue to exploit her for profit.

Act Now - Sign & Share.
APHIS: send Asha, Bubbles, Lady Essex, Minnie and Okha to Sanctuary!

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