But as the elephant ambulance pulled into the center and her rescuers opened up the back door of the truck, the weary elephant took her first steps to freedom.
Wildlife S.O.S. kept its promise to reunite her with her "sisters," Mia and Sita, who were rescued in November 2015.
Rhea had to endure months without them, not knowing if she would ever see them again. When they reunited, it was as if Mia and Sita were waiting for Rhea.
The bond they shared for so long in captivity as circus elephants was never broken, and it was as if no time had passed.
Rhea will spend the rest of her days living as an elephant should - out in the wild eating bananas and forming close bonds. And, most importantly, she will spend it with the sisters who love her. The three elephants will never have to be apart again.
Rhea is home. And everything is right in her world.