Hope Elephants opened its doors Dec. 27 for a sneak peek at the elephant rehabilitation facility being built on Hatchet Mountain Road. More than 100 people made their way through the building.

In July, veterinarian Jim Laurita and his brother Tom Laurita, founders of Hope Elephants, received approval from the town to build a 3,120-square-foot barn that will house a 42-year-old Asian elephant named Rosie and another female Asian elephant, not yet identified by the nonprofit.

The question remains as to when Rosie will relocate to Hope. The organization is still waiting for state and federal permits, which are to be obtained after the facility is constructed. Jim Laurita told visitors Dec. 27 “it’s like running in syrup.”

The barn features about 1,200 feet of space for the two elephants; the floor is covered in sand to help ease Rosie’s arthritis, Jim Laurita said. In the center of the area, there is a sand pile that will allow the elephants to relax and have ease at getting up, he said.

The barn has radiant heat in the floors and Rosie will also help heat her own facility — elephant manure will be pumped back into the building as fuel for the main heat source. To one side of the pen, there is an area for washing the elephants and also where different modalities will be used to ease the arthritis. Tom Laurita told a tour group the elephants will have hydrotherapy, massage, accutherapy, ultrasounds and more.

The outside contains a one-acre area and Rosie will be allowed outside every day as long as weather permits.

Tom Laurita said Hope Elephants’ mission is to “only bring an elephant here that we feel will improve their life.”

Currently Rosie lives with the Carson and Barnes Circus in Hugo, Okla., and has been isolated from the other elephants because she has been ostracized from the herd. Tom Laurita said Rosie was bottle fed as a baby and really takes to humans and she tends to be clingy with the other elephants.

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