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A New Life for Mundi the Elephant

In 1982, Mundi, a female African Savannah elephant was born in Zimbabwe, Africa. Elephants that reside in Zimbabwe are often subjected to “culling” which aims to reduce the population by killing groups of a particular species.  

Kruger National Park in Africa has a history of culling elephants to manage the population. 14,629 elephants were culled in the National Park between 1967 to 1997. The human-wildlife conflict was the primary reason culling took place. The history of elephants escaping the Kruger National Park raised concerns regarding community safety and the rare occurrence of behavioral problems within the National Park was perceived as a threat to visitors and park officials. As a result, many elephants were killed. The South African legislation has created specific procedures and policies regarding culling and holds noncomplying individuals criminally liable.


In 1984, Arthur Jones, brought 63 orphaned juvenile elephants to his residence in Ocala, Florida, after suspecting a recent culling. The journey to the United States, known as the “Elephant Operation” confirmed his true intentions. Between 1986-1988, Jones separated the juvenile elephants and sold them to zoos, circuses, and other individuals. After leaving the wild, Mundi was involved in an attack that resulted in a blind eye and damaged tusk. In 1988, Mundi was transferred to Mayaguez Zoo in Puerto Rico, where she would live for several years.


The Mayaguez Zoo in Puerto Rico has a long list of violations and complaints. In 2012, the zoo was given numerous citations from the USDA for treating the animals poorly, not providing proper veterinary care when needed, broken enclosures and equipment, and uncleanliness in the facility. 


For 35 years, Mundi the elephant lived alone in a 15,000-square-foot enclosure with an entrance to a covered space. During that time, Mundi was forced to take pictures with visitors and perform tricks. 


In January 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice forced the Mayaguez Zoo to close. All the animals in the zoo were transferred to other rescue organizations. Mundi, now 41 years old, is transferring to Elephant Refuge North America located in Georgia. Mundi will be joining the refuge as the first African elephant and will be able to make new friends with the two current resident elephants as well. After being captured from the wild, separated from her family, forced to entertain zoo visitors, and living alone for years, Mundi has a bright future waiting for her in Georgia. 


With the combined effort of World Animal Protection and Elephant Aid International, Mundi will be able to live the rest of her years in a place she can call home. 


Edited by: Kavya Venkateshwaran

Photo by: Elephant Aid International


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