- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The co-founder of a facility that takes care of retired circus elephants was trampled to death, investigators said.

James Laurita, a 56-year-old veterinarian, had fallen in the barn of Hope Elephants and hit his head on the concrete floor, BBC reported. While he was lying there, an elephant stepped on his chest and killed him, investigators said.

“Jim’s passion for all animals, but especially elephants, was boundless,” Hope Elephants board members said in a statement reported by BBC.

The facility is located in Maine, about 87 miles from Portland.

“The elephant was not aggressive in any way,” said Mark Belserene, of Maine’s medical examiner’s office, in BBC. “It was clearly an accident.”

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