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Animal Law

Sanctuary Founder Sues for Her Old Job and Elephant Visitation Rights

Posted Oct 28, 2010 8:07 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The founder of an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee is seeking visitation rights with an elephant she once taught to roller skate.

Carol Buckley was only a young student when she bought Tarra the elephant, then a calf, from a tire shop in California, the New York Times reports. Tarra performed in circuses and on television, but Buckley later gave up that life and co-founded the sanctuary in 1995. She is now considered a leading authority on elephant rehabilitation.

Buckley filed suit after the sanctuary board fired her as president, ousted her from her home in the sanctuary, and barred visits with Tarra, the story says. Buckley claims she was fired after she opposed a $60,000 payment to the spouse of a board member. She alleges in her lawsuit that board members defamed her by accusing her of being aggressive with elephants and engaging in illegal practices.

Her suit seeks more than $1 million in damages, reinstatement to her job, and visitation with Tarra. “This is my elephant,” Buckley told the Times. “She’s my family.”

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