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Bireki at Zacango Ecological Park in México state. Bireki at Zacango Ecological Park in México state. Twitter / @FillatNapo

Former circus elephant finds new home at Sinaloa sanctuary

She'll have Big Boy, another circus retiree, for company

Thirty-year-old Bireki, the first Asian elephant to be born and raised in captivity in Mexico, left the Zacango Ecological Park for her new, permanent home in the Ostok Animal Protection & Sanctuary on Thursday.

Rescued from a Veracruz circus in 2014, Bireki has spent the last nine years at the Zacango Park being looked after by staff as part of their Bienestar Animal (Animal Wellbeing) program. There, her health, weight, and diet were managed to ensure she fully recovered from her years as a circus elephant in captivity.

“She arrived at the Parque Ecológico Zacango nine years ago, from that moment on I just want to say thank you to all of the staff at the park for all their love and care for this elephant,” said the director of México state’s Commission for Natural Parks and Wildlife (Cepanaf), Napoleón Fillat Ordóñez.

Bireki’s new home, the Ostok Sanctuary in Culiacán, Sinaloa, is a 21-hectare reserve where resident animals live in an environment as close to their natural one as possible, with minimal human contact, except in cases where they need special care. The sanctuary has taken in 400 animals endangered because of loss of natural habitat or rescued from illegal trafficking or other abusive situations. Some of these animals have been rehabilitated and released back into the wild, while others have been able to live out their days in safety at the sanctuary.

Bireki, the first Mexican-born Asian elephant, as a baby.

Last July, Ostok received “Big Boy” at their facilities, now one of their most famous residents. Another Asian elephant, Big Boy was owned by a circus for 30 years and found chained in Jalisco in 2021, following a law that was passed in 2015 outlawing the use of animals in the circus. Asian elephants are considered endangered across the globe, due to loss of habitat and the continued threat of poaching.

When Bireki arrives in Culiacán, she will be quarantined for 45 days in the same temporarily shelter that housed Big Boy upon his arrival. There she will be monitored to see how she adapts to the climate. Once given the OK, she will meet her new neighbor Big Boy on the grounds of the sanctuary.

With reports from Excélsior

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