The first elephant sanctuary in Latin America has opened in Brazil to provide a home for an estimated 50 circus animals from across the region.

Maia and Guida, two elephants who are both over 40 and no longer able to perform, are the first to come to the sanctuary. Both elephants are thought to have come from Thailand, where they were illegally taken to be used in circus. 

The Global Sanctuary for Elephants bought the land in the western state of Mato Grosso of 2,800 acres, for $1m. The first phase of the project will host up to six animals. 

Entirely financed by international NGOs, it will not be opened to visitation and could host up to 50 elephants. Before being placed in the facility, the animals will undergo a rehabilitation process under veterinary supervision to regain confidence.

The sanctuary should receive its third elephant, rescued from a Chilean circus, early next year.

Oct. 15, 2016 Living photo: Profimedia

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