Bo is a captive-born male Asian elephant, the offspring of Vance and Sue, members of a breeding herd of elephants owned by Roman Schmidt at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida. He was born January 22, 1987.
At one year old Bo was purchased by Cheryl Shawver of Animal Actors of Hollywood. By five Bo had become difficult to manage and was sold to George Carden. Understanding that the future for an unneutered male elephant in captivity is bleak, George decided to have Bo castrated.
Surgical castration is an extremely invasive procedure for male elephants that requires weeks of follow up care. George Carden tended to Bo's healing incisions daily, resulting in Bo's full recovery and the forging of a very strong bond between the two.
As part of the George Carden Circus, Bo lived with a group of female elephants, which was familiar and reassuring to him. Being the baby, the middle-aged females mothered Bo while teaching him valuable social skills. For 29 years, all the elephants traveled and performed together.
At the time of his retirement in September 2021, Bo was a highly valued circus performer in the prime of his life at the age of 34. With a possible life expectancy of 70 years, Bo could continue to perform for decades. But in a world in which retirement is a novel concept, George Carden believed Bo deserved a good retirement. "Bo is family to me and deserves to retire to a beautiful place designed to give him a good life," says George. "I want him to have the best, which is why I want him to live at the Refuge."
Bo took to retirement at ERNA with gusto - grazing all day and much of the night resulting in a healthy amount of physical activity and consumption of nutritious live vegetation. After only two weeks in his 7-acre yard, Bo was released into the 100-acre habitat and quickly became comfortable exploring the expansive pastures and wooded areas.
In November 2021, Tarra arrived at the Refuge. With another elephant companion, Bo has further explored his autonomy. Bo used to return to the barn midday to nap. Now he naps in the habitat with Tarra close by. Both settled in quickly and smoothly. Their relaxed body language and calm behavior continues to let us know they are comfortable and at peace.
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Bo is 10'6" tall, weighs 12,000 pounds and the circumference of his front foot is 5'4".
- Species: Asian elephant
- Gender: Male
- Birth: January 22, 1987
- Birth Place: Tampa, Florida, USA
- ERNA Arrival Date: September 23, 2021
- Interesting Fact: Bo arrived with custom fitted stainless steel caps on the ends of his tusks that were designed to protect them from breakage, but are non-essential in a natural habitat environment. Once they fall off, they will not be replaced.
- Personality Characteristics: Calm and gentle
- Friends: Tarra and Mala
- Major Milestones:
- October 2021 - Bo's Big Adventure - After only two weeks at ERNA, Bo was released into the 100-acre habitat.
- November 2021 - Tarra's Arrival - Bo welcomes his new elephant friend calmly, embarking on a new social relationship
Jan 22, 1987
Bo was born January 22, 1987 in Tampa, FL
1988 Bo purchased by Animal Actors of Hollywood
1989 Carol meets Bo for the first time, living alone recently separated from his herd.
1992 Bo purchased by George Carden
1993 Bo undergoes successful castration
1998 Carol meets Bo for the second time, when he is a star circus performer living with a herd of females.
1993-2021 star performer with the George Carden Circus
Sep 23, 2021
Bo retires September 23, 2021 at Elephant Refuge North America
The Post-Searchlight: Bo the elephant calls Attapulgus sanctuary home
Tallahassee Democrat: 'Born to be free': Georgia elephant refuge welcomes Bo, a retired circus elephant
WFSU Local News: South Georgia Elephant Refuge To Welcome First Resident