Woman wants elephant visitation rights

Oct. 11, 2010 at 2:00 PM
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NASHVILLE, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Carol Buckley, the fired co-founder of a sanctuary for sick and endangered elephants in Tennessee, says she wants visitation rights to see her elephant, Tarra.

Buckley, a founder of The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, is suing the sanctuary and two board members for retaliatory termination and breach of contract, The (Nashville) Tennessean reported.

Buckley also wants the court to grant her visitation rights to see Tarra, an elephant she owned when she helped form the sanctuary.

In her lawsuit, Buckley said her trouble started after she objected to a payment made to the husband of board member Janice Zeitlin. Zeitlin and Mary Baker, the sanctuary's acting chief executive officer, are defendants in the case.

Zeitlin wrote a $60,000 check for a planned education building on the sanctuary to her husband. Buckley closed the account and the incident contributed to her firing, the report said.

Buckley was fired on March 17, after an ordered two-month leave of absence. In her suit, Buckley said she agreed to the leave of absence with the understanding her performance would be evaluated. She said she was fired instead.

"It was just shocking," Buckley said in her suit.

Buckley and fellow elephant trainer Scott Blais started the sanctuary in 1995 with 100 acres of land and Tarra. It has since grown to 2,700 acres and has held 24 elephants, the newspaper said.

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