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Big Boy at his new home in Sinaloa. Big Boy at his new home in Sinaloa.

40-year-old elephant is first resident of new animal sanctuary in Sinaloa

'Big Boy' cost US $400,000 and eats 200 kilograms of food a day

A four-tonne, 40-year-old Asian elephant moved into his new home Monday at a new animal sanctuary 30 kilometers north of Culiacán, Sinaloa.

“Big Boy” had spent 30 years as a circus animal and was then kept chained in Jalisco for five years after a law prohibiting the use of animals in circuses went into force in 2015. He was transferred from Jalisco to Sinaloa three months ago.

The elephant spent three months in Culiacán Zoo where his diet was monitored and he was given medical attention, before being moved to the open air sanctuary earlier this week.

The 21-hectare Ostok Animal Protection & Sanctuary will house animals whose ecosystems are threatened and those rescued from illegal trafficking, poaching and abandonment.

The project came to life when animal rights activist Arturo Islas Allende lobbied restaurant entrepreneur Jorge Cueva, known as Mr. Tempo, to purchase Big Boy for about US $400,000. Allende and president of the Association of Zoos, Breeders and Aquariums, Ernesto Zazueta, then founded the sanctuary.

However, looking after the elephant is no mean feat: it eats more than 200 kilograms of alfalfa, oats and fruit per day.

Zazueta explained the need for the sanctuary. “We are in a very, very critical situation. In the last 30 years we have lost 40% of all the fauna in our country and 30% is in danger of extinction,” he said.

“The last governments increased urbanization mega-projects that demolish the homes of hundreds of thousands of animals, and reduced the budget allocated to the environment, causing a lack of protection for the vast majority of Natural Protected Areas and the abandonment of wild fauna,” he added.

With reports from El Universal, El Sol de Sinaloa and Los Angeles Times

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