Visiting with Rosie and Opal

By Tanya Mitchell | Dec 01, 2012
Photo by: Tanya Mitchell Andrew Stewart, an assistant elephant trainer at Hope Elephants, talks to students from Belfast Community Outreach Program in Education about retired circus elephants Opal and Rosie Tuesday, Nov. 27.

Hope — Students from Belfast Community Outreach Program in Education (BCOPE) got an up-close and personal introduction this week to two of the best-known residents of the town of Hope.

A handful of BCOPE students traveled to the Hope Elephants facility Tuesday, Nov. 27, to meet Rosie and Opal, a pair of injured and retired circus elephants who will spend the remainder of their lives resting and rehabilitating in Midcoast Maine.

Andrew Stewart, an assistant elephant trainer at the facility, said both Rosie and Opal are Asian elephants that spent their entire lives working as circus animals. They suffer from a variety of physical and emotional ailments as a result of their careers, but Stewart said at Hope Elephants, both will get daily physical therapy, medical treatment and the nutritional support they need to live comfortably and happily.

"I can't see anywhere else in the country where they would get the kind of care they're going to get here," Stewart said.

Entertainment, said Stewart, is another important service provided to Rosie and Opal. The animals have been exposed to mirrors, as Stewart said elephants and primates are the only animals besides humans that can recognize their own reflections. Rosie and Opal seemed to enjoy seeing their faces looking back at them, Stewart said. On another occasion, Stewart said, Rosie and Opal spent some time playing with yoga balls.

"They were kicking them all around, and throwing them up in the air," said Stewart with a smile.

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