Ground broken for pachyderm paradise

FELLSMERE, FL (WFLX) Ground was broken Wednesday for the National Elephant Center in Fellsmere.  

The 225-acre site will be transformed from an orange grove into a pachyderm paradise.

The center is a collaborative effort of more than 70 zoos around the country dedicated to improving elephant care.

"It's not only going to be home for elephants in retirement, but for breeding and training.  It will be a dynamic center," said Ric Barongi with the National Elephant Center.

Fellsmere Mayor Susan Adams said, "We're trying to integrate the center into our greenways trail with an observation tower so people can view the elephants."

The center will not be open to the general public.

Phase one should take about 8 months and include a large barn, keeper work center, and pastures for the elephants to roam.

While dozens of elephants could be cared for here in the future, no more than 10 elephants will call the center home in its first year.