USDA removes malnourished elephant from Lance Ramos
TAMPA — Ned the elephant has new digs.
U.S. Department of Agriculture officials removed the 21-year-old Asian elephant from his Balm home Saturday after they found him malnourished in the care of his owner, circus trainer Lance Ramos.
Carol Buckley of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee in Hohenwald, Tenn., wrote in a diary she's been keeping about Ned that his shoulder blades were protruding from his 9-foot-6, 7,500-pound frame when he arrived at the sanctuary Sunday.
That's about a ton underweight, she said.
Ned, who was born at Busch Gardens on Oct. 10, 1987, is only the second elephant to ever be confiscated by the USDA, according to Elliot. He was born to two elephants who were captured in the wild in Southeast Asia, but who came to belong to a Busch Gardens breeding manager.
When he was 2 years old, Ned was sold to a circus trainer. He performed with the Big Apple circus for almost a decade until elephants were cut from the circus lineup. That's when Ramos took possession of the elephant, according to the sanctuary.
Jessica Milteer, a spokeswoman with the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said Ramos was warned several times prior to the confiscation that his care of Ned needed to be improved.
This is not Ramos first encounter with USDA sanctions. In 2000, the federal agency charged him with violating the Animal Welfare Act after an 18-year-old female elephant broke free from a chain and killed Teresa Ramos-Caballero. The elephant died soon after of unknown reasons.
Ramos, who is also known as Lancelot Kollmann, has also been cited by the USDA in the past for failure to provide veterinary care to injured animals, causing trauma and harm to a jaguar and unsanitary conditions. He is currently appealing an administrative court ruling in a case brought by USDA concerning his treatment of bigs cats, Milteer said.
Milteer said the USDA only enforces civil and licensing sanctions and does not have the ability to bring criminal charges.
Ramos could not be immediately reached for comment.
Rebecca Catalanello, Times staff writer
Photo courtesy of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee
Carole's note: This is where Snorkle came from and there are still probably a dozen or so tigers there.
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12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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