Owner Crushed to death by Elephants Rosie and Opal Hope Refuge Maine elephant refuge dies Owner Crushed to death by Elephants Rosie and Opal Hope, Maine elephant refuge dies HOPE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — The man who established a sanctuary for retired circus elephants in Maine was found dead Tuesday morning. Dr. James Laurita, who founded Hope Elephants, apparently died while caring for those elephants.
The State Medical Examiner Dr. Flomenbaum said that the injuries Dr. Laurita sustained are consistent with an elephant stepping him. Dr. Flomenbaum said the elephant did not go berserk, but it was an accident. Knox County Sheriff’s office said the investigation shows Dr. Laurita had fallen and was on the ground when the elephant stepped on him. He suffered multiple chest fractures and died of asphyxiation. Someone at the the sanctuary found him and called 9-1-1.
Hope Elephants wrote on their website,
“Hope Elephants is deeply saddened by the death of our founder, Dr. Jim Laurita. Jim’s passion for all aniamls, especially elephants, was boundless…It was through education that Jim passed on his passion and the importance of wildlife conservation.”
Laurita began his love affair with elephants in the late 70’s when he worked for a regional circus. In fact, the two elephants at the sanctuary in Hope, were those he took care of while working for the circus.
It is too soon to determine how Laurita’s death will affect the sanctuary and the future of the elephants. Laurita was 56 years old.