Mundi’s tragic history is sadly a common story for wild animals who are exploited by the entertainment industry.
Mundi, a female African Savannah Elephant born in Zimbabwe in 1982, has had a tragic life. In 1984, she was among 63 young African elephants brought to the United States by millionaire Arthur Jones, who claimed to have rescued the elephants after a mass culling organized by the Zimbabwe government left them orphaned. However, this 22-hour-long import, known as “Elephant Operation,” was later revealed to be a ploy to bring the elephants to Jones’ property called Jumbolair. Sadly, the elephants were subsequently separated and sold to zoos, circuses, and private individuals in 1986-1988.
Mundi suffered an attack during this time that left her with one blind eye and a permanently damaged tusk. She was later moved to Mayaguez Zoo in Puerto Rico in 1988, where she has been kept in isolation for nearly 35 years performing circus tricks and posing for selfies with visitors during the day. The zoo has faced numerous violations over the years, including a lack of veterinary care resulting in the death of a tiger, expired food and medications, and failure to protect animals from extreme heat and physical hazards. This led to the cancellation of its exhibitor’s license by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2018.
But, there is finally hope for Mundi.
In February 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice ordered the closure of the Mayaguez Zoo and the relocation of all remaining animals to sanctuaries. Mundi will soon be the third elephant living at Elephant Refuge North America (ERNA) in Georgia. Mundi’s tragic history is sadly a common story for wild animals who are exploited by the entertainment industry, as she was captured in the wild, orphaned at a young age, and cruelly traded around.