October 10, 1987 ~ May 15, 2009

Ned was a Survivor

Everyone always asks how an elephant is rescued. Jeff Kirlin, who took the photos, inadvertently (but fortunately) exposed Ned’s condition, prompting an outcry from the public followed by USDA’s confiscation. http://picasaweb.google.com/jkirlin/Ned

   Ned in the circus    Ned in the circus
   Photos courtesy of Jeff Kirlin

On November 8, 2008, the United States Department of Agriculture confiscated Ned, an adult male Asian elephant. Allegedly, owner Lance Ramos, a resident of Florida, failed to comply with the Animal Welfare Act and under the USDA’s authority Ned has been placed with The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Ned will be at The Elephant Sanctuary temporarily to recover and prepare for his cross-country move to a permanent facility. Ned is currently seriously underweight; our focus over these next many weeks will be on Ned’s recovery.

Ned is one of an elite group of captive born elephants. Born October 10, 1987 to parents Josky and Vance, both wild caught in Southeast Asia as babies, all three were the property of the now-deceased elephant trainer and circus performer, Roman Schmitt. At the time of Ned’s birth, Mr. Schmitt was the manager of the Busch Gardens’ elephant breeding program.

At the tender age of two, Ned was sold to a circus elephant trainer named Buckles Woodcock and made his performing debut in 1990 with the Big Apple Circus. Reportedly, Ned continued to perform on the show for nearly a decade until the Big Apple Circus removed elephants from their line-up. Sometime later Mr. Woodcock transferred Ned to Lance Ramos, a fellow circus trainer and performer. It was reported that earlier this year Lance Ramos and Ned were performing with the Royal Hannaford traveling circus.

As far back as 2000, the United States Department of Agriculture was monitoring the activities of Lance Ramos and his Oscarian Brothers Circus. Records indicate that in June of 2000 the USDA charged the circus with violating the Animal Welfare Act for failing to contain an elephant by failing to provide and maintain an enclosure of sufficient strength, which resulted in the elephant attacking and killing a woman. This same 18-year-old female African elephant named Kenya was later found dead, eleven days following the fatal attack. According to Sgt. Rod Reder, a spokesman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office “Possible foul play is suspected in the death of this elephant." The cause of Kenya’s death was never determined.

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