HOPE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -Elephants now live in the town of Hope, Maine.

No, it isn't a product of global warming.

Local veterinarian Dr. Jim Laurita has realized a longtime dream to bring two retired circus elephants to Maine. Not just any elephants, but particular elephants he worked with thirty years ago in a circus.

Laurita says he has dreamed for decades about creating a retirement home for Rosie the elephant and her close friend, Opal. For the past year and a half Laurita and a team of supporters have been raising money to build the large barn and heavy-duty enclosure for the pachyderms.

The two elephants are senior citizens in their world -Rosie is 43, Opal is 41 - but Laurita says they're basically healthy. However, both suffer from some joint and muscle problems.Laurita plans to provide several types of therapy to deal with those issues.

He also hopes to use the elephants to educate children and adults about the threats to wild elephants in Africa and India. He says as many as 30,000 of the animals are killed by poachers each year, and says that needs to change if elephants are to avoid extinction. In just the first month the elephants have been in residence, Hope Elephants says 500 school children have come to visit.

Visitors are welcome, but appointments are needed. Contact Hope Elephants at:207-619-4801 or emailinfo@hopeelephants.org

Hope Elephants is still trying to raise money to pay off the debt from the facility. They plan to open a Christmas season storefront in downtown Camden . They're also hoping people will donate to "Buy A Bale" of hay to help feed Rosie and Opal.

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