Ned, 21 Year-Old Captive Born Male Elephant Dies from Long Term Illness

On May 15, at 3:42 am CT, Ned, the second elephant ever confiscated by the United States Department of Agriculture, died peacefully in the company of his caregivers at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

Ned was born into the captive breeding program at Busch Gardens, and at age two, sold to a circus trainer and performed with the Big Apple Circus until 2000. Later, Ned was traded to another circus trainer who hired him out to the Royal Hannaford traveling circus until Ned’s emaciated condition attracted the attention of the USDA. On November 9, 2008 Ned was removed from his former owner, who was cited with failure to comply with the Animal Welfare Act, and by USDA authority, placed with The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. 

Upon arrival to the Sanctuary, Ned’s emaciated condition was serious and the prognosis for his survival tenuous. Over the next six months, all efforts to stabilize him failed.  Despite the battery of tests performed and experts consulted, the cause of Ned’s condition went undetermined. His symptoms included severe weight loss, malnourishment, inability to absorb nutrients and bouts of abdominal cramping. A team of veterinarians and a nutritionist studied Ned’s case. A variety of treatment and diet changes were implemented, all without success. Finally in the early hours of May 15 Ned no longer had the strength to stand and succumbed to his disease. 

A necropsy will be performed on Saturday May 16. Hopefully, answers will be found that will help other elephants who suffer from these same symptoms. 

Operating on 2,700 acres in Hohenwald, Tennessee, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee   has been developed specifically to provide a place for traumatized elephants to recover from the debilitating experience of captivity. The nonprofit organization, accredited by The Association of Sanctuaries and licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, is designed specifically for old, sick or needy elephants that have been removed from zoos and circuses.

To find out more about the plight of captive elephants, and to learn more about Ned’s life visit Honoring Ned.