The elephant, one of the world’s largest and most threatened animals, has been given a new home. A new facility, called the National Elephant Center, has been built in Fellsmere, Fla. to preserve the threatened species.

Elephants are known to concentrate in parts of Africa. The average life span for a female elephant is 41 years and 24 years for males. Many elephants can grow up to 20,000 pounds and they usually consume around 300 pounds of food a day and spend up to 18 hours feeding, but recently, many elephants are being killed in Africa for their ivory with deadly methods, according to conservation experts.

Experts estimate the rate of elephants being killed at around 96 a day, which makes elephants very vulnerable to becoming extinct within the next decade. Washington State professor Sam Wasser believes crime groups are heavily involved because ivory is so profitable. Ivory can make a profit of $700 dollars per pound, leading some people to go great lengths to increase their business. Another deadly way elephants are being killed is by cyanide poisoning, with a recent poisoning that killed 300 elephants in Zimbabwe.

The 225-acre facility, lying in a citrus grove in Fellsmere, Fla., has a mission to preserve the threatened animals and provide exceptional care, while also providing shelter for any elephant in need.

Allowing the animals to live in a habitat similar to the one’s they are used to gives them to the opportunity to enjoy a good quality life and be able to reproduce normally.

“Buying or selling any elephant is not in the facilities intentions,” according to Executive Director John Lehnhardt.

The construction of the facility was made possible with more than $2 million in donations, but doesn’t have the option of public viewing at the moment. Many conservationists are against the proposition of keeping elephants captive, but Lehnhardt expects the facility to become a future home for around 500 elephants currently being held in captivity in the U.S. There are currently around 300,000 African elephants and 40,000 Asian elephants left in the world today, but the population has been decreasing.

The National Elephant Center is currently home to four African elephants: two females and two males. The facility is made up of a great group of individuals that strive to provide exceptional care and share their love for elephants. Volunteer positions are available in assisting with physical outdoor work.

For more information about the sanctuary and volunteering opportunities, please visit the National Elephant Center’s website or its Facebook page.

Update from the National Elephant Center: The National Elephant Center will provide homes for elephants both short term and long term, in support of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) elephant population and for the welfare of elephants in need. The Center supports the development of a self-sustaining population of elephants in North America through the development of multigenerational matriarchal herds. We will support breeding for elephants where it is appropriate and recommended by the regional Species Survival Plan. We will never purchase or sell any elephants and will never separate female elephants from their natal group as long as the group is functional and no elephant has compromised welfare within the herd due to behavioral incompatibility.

Image Source: National Elephant Center