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Mundi, African elephant proves they can fly with trip to Jacksonville

Mundi, an African savanna elephant landed on the First Coast Friday. She's headed to Elephant Refuge North America in Attapulgus, Georgia.
Credit: Elephant Aid International
African savanna elephant, Mundi lands on the First Coast in route to Elephant Refuge North America in Georgia.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An elephant's journey has brought her to Jacksonville. 

Mundi the elephant landed on the First Coast after traveling by plane on Friday. The flight took approximately three hours, as she traveled alongside three other animals from the zoo - a rhino and two hippos, each in their own transport crate.

Credit: The Wild Animal Sanctuary
Mundi the elephant in transport crate on three-hour flight to Jacksonville

The wild-born African savanna elephant was brought to the United States by Elephant Aid International and The Wild Animal Sanctuary. She will be the third elephant to make Elephant Refuge North America in Attapulgus, Georgia her home. 

Mundi was one of 63 young African elephants brought to the United States by millionaire Arthur Jones in 1984. Jones orchestrated a rescue mission to bring the calves to his Jumbolair estate in Ocala, Florida after mass culling organized by the Zimbabwe government left them orphaned.

Following an attack that left her with one blind eye and a permanently damaged right tusk, Jones broke up the young herd and sold them to zoos, circuses and private individuals in 1986. Mundi was sold to the Juan A. Rivero Zoo in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

Mundi has been on display at the zoo since 1988. For nearly 35 years, she has lived alone in an area of about 15,000 square feet with access to an enclosed shelter.

The zoo had been closed to the public for years due to growing financial difficulties and for failing to employ a veterinarian to provide care for its animals, many of which had died. This resulted in the loss of the zoo's USDA license.

In 2018, Mundi was under contract to come to ERNA, but the struggling government imploded, and all contracts were canceled.

Finally, in February 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice ordered the zoo's closure and the relocation of all the remaining animals to reputable sanctuaries. Shortly after, the ERNA were once again asked to accept Mundi. 

Mundi will be Elephant Refuge North America's third elephant and first African.

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