Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil opens Latin America's first elephant sanctuary

Asian elephants Guida and Maia stand together for the first time in the adaptation area of their new home, Latin America's first elephant sanctuary Image copyright AP
Image caption Asian elephants Guida and Maia arrived at the sanctuary earlier this week

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.

Guida and Maia, both over 40 years old, are the first residents.

They will be provided with veterinary care and live out their lives in forested areas with pastures.

A US-based group bought the land to give the elephants a refuge as zoos in the region close and more laws prohibit the use of animals in circuses.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Guida spent years languishing on a Brazilian farm
Image copyright AP
Image caption Maia was also a circus elephant
Image copyright AP
Image caption This is the first elephant sanctuary in Latin America
Image copyright AP
Image caption Cameras will allow visitors and scientists to observe the animals

Both elephants are thought to have come from Thailand, where they were illegally taken to be used in circus, Brazil's G1 website reports (in Portuguese).

The Global Sanctuary for Elephants bought the land of 2,800 acres, for $1m (£820,000) to be paid over five years.

The area is located in the western state of Mato Grosso.

The first phase of the project will host up to six animals. The sanctuary will not be open for visitors.

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