TODAY   |  October 26, 2013

Inside Florida's sanctuary for aging elephants

A non-profit center in Florida opened this year on 225 acres, and is run with the mission of giving a home for elephants that are moved from other facilities because of old age. NBC’s Mark Potter reports.

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>>> you wouldn't expect to find elephants roaming around the middle of florida. but that is actually happening. at an elephant sanctuary there built to keep them safe. mark potter went to check it out.

>> reporter: in the golden light of dawn, in florida, a 4 1/2 ton african elephant is here. now she is the matriarch of her own family at the new national elephant center.

>> they have the largest brain of any animal on the planet. they are incredibly intelligent and incredibly social. they are family oriented.

>> reporter: it opened this year and runs on donations. a home for elephants moved from other facilities because of old age or to allow herds to breed and develop more naturally protecting the species at a time when prororcher is are decimating the wild society.

>> i want my kids to see elephants and know how special these guys really are.

>> reporter: the elephants are the first to arrive here and came from disney's animal kingdom to give them more space. most of the day they wander and graze outdoors but in the morning, come inside tempted by a bucket of treats.

>> we had apples, carrots and melon in there.

>> reporter: they are given a bath and to keep them clean and check their health and give them any treatment that might be nen needed. they love the orange growing here.

>> she picked it and put in her mouth and she was like, my goodness. i want more, i want more.

>> reporter: the center is closed to the public there are plans to make it a learning facility with these ambassadors teaching why the world's largest land mammals must be saved. mark potter , nbc news.