Flora was born in 1982, in the wilds of Zimbabwe, Africa, and was orphaned at age two after the culling of all the adults in her family herd.
Flora was imported from Africa by an elephant broker in Southern California and was soon purchased by David Balding. Flora was introduced to the circus in 1985, and quickly became the star of Circus Flora and spent the next 18 years performing as a solo elephant under the big top. In addition to her on stage performances, Flora also starred in the PeeWee Herman movie “Big Top PeeWee.”
After years of performing, Flora began to mature, and Balding recognized that Flora no longer enjoyed performing. In 2001, Balding began to research options for Flora's retirement. She was placed temporarily at the Miami Metro Zoo in Florida while Balding sought a permanent home for her. He stated his desire was for Flora to return to Africa and be re-introduced into the wild, but after some research he realized this was unrealistic.
The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee had plans to create an African elephant habitat, and offered to expand their construction plans and give Flora a permanent home. Crossover Films of Los Angeles documented Flora’s journey from an orphaned baby to a circus superstar and then to The Sanctuary. The documentary film is entitled “One Lucky Elephant.”
On March 3, 2004, Flora completed her trip from Miami to Hohenwald, Tennessee to become the 12th resident of The Sanctuary. Flora was the third African elephant—joining Tange and Zula, who had arrived just a few weeks earlier.
Flora possesses a very regal stature with loads of self-confidence and enthusiasm for exploring. Flora and her companions, Tange and Sukari, make full use of their expansive natural habitat. The three roam throughout, foraging, knocking down trees, and rolling in the mud wallows.
Flora and Tange have grown increasingly close over the past few years with displays of affection, including entwined trunks, sparring, and caressing. Tange often encourages and solicits play from Flora, exhibiting a continual strengthening of their social bonds. Tange, Sukari and Flora are also beginning to spend more time together.