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Hope elephants leave Maine

The two retired circus elephants will live at a sanctuary in Oklahoma.
Rosie and Opal, the two retired circus elephants.

HOPE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The two Hope elephants have left Maine to return to their previous sanctuary in Oklahoma. The Hope Elephants board of directors announced their departure on their Facebook page Monday.

Rosie and Opal will live at The Endangered Ark Foundation, which had loaned the pair to Hope Elephants. In Hope Elephants statement, they said late Dr. Jim Laurita, who started the sanctuary in Maine, had always spoken highly of the Oklahoma sanctuary and had said that if something were to happen, Rosie and Opal should return there while Hope Elephants reevaluates their future plans.

Dr. Jim Laurita died last week when one the elephants stepped on his chest. He had fallen on the ground when the incident occurred. The State Medical Examiner said it was an accident and the animal did not attack Dr. Laurita.

Hope Elephants said they are committed to honoring Dr. Laurita's vision for the sanctuary. They said they will continue to post photos of Rosie and Opal on the Hope Elephants' website.

After Dr. Laurita's death, the sanctuary said it owed his family about $300,000. It set up a fund to help pay his family back.

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