Hope Elephants Founder Dies After Falling in Corral [UPDATE]
The man who founded Hope Elephants in the town of Hope is dead, after reportedly falling in the corral. The State Medical Examiner’s office says one of the elephants stepped on him after he fell.
Dr. James Laurita, age 56, was following his normal routine, tending to his elephants when he died. Originally, police thought he passed away after hitting his head on the cement floor. This afternoon, the cause was updated. One of the elephants accidentally stepped on Laurita after he fell, causing internal injuries. The cause of death is listed as asphyxiation.
Dr. Laurita started the organization when he decided he wanted to take care of two aging elephants, Rosie and Opal, who needed specialized care for arthritic conditions. Laurita had cared for the elephants when he was younger. Through the organization, he developed techniques and treatments that can help other elephants with similar medical issues.