Hope residents and folks involved with the Hope Elephants project gathered Aug. 2 at Jim Laurita’s house on Hatchet Mountain Road for a ground-breaking ceremony and toast.

Site work is expected to get under way this week by Maine Coast Construction to begin building the barn to house Rosie, a 42-year-old Asian elephant.

Veterinarian Jim Laurita and his brother Tom Laurita have formed Hope Elephants, a nonprofit which will be dedicated to providing high-end physical therapy to elephants. Rosie, who now lives at the Carson & Barnes Circus in Hugo, Okla. will be the first of two elephants the Laurita’s plan to move to Hope. Tom Laurita said they are expected to obtain the tax-exempt status this week.

After the building is constructed, Hope Elephants still needs to obtain state and federal approval. The Laurita’s would like to see Rosie in Maine by the end of October.

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