Over 1.8 million nonprofits and charities for donors, volunteers and funders

2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Elephant Sanctuary

Claim This Nonprofit

More Info

Add to Favorites

Share this Nonprofit

Donate

Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animals, Protection of Endangered Species

Mission: The Elephant Sanctuary exists to provide captive elephants with individualized care, the companionship of a herd, and the opportunity to live out their lives in a safe haven dedicated to their well-being; and to raise public awareness of the complex needs of elephants in captivity, and the crisis facing elephants in the wild.

Results: The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is the nation's largest natural habitat refuge developed specifically for endangered African and Asian elephants. The Sanctuary operates on 2,700 acres in Hohenwald, Tennessee—85 miles southwest of Nashville. Since 1995, The Sanctuary has given safe haven to a total of 27 elephants retired from entertainment and exhibition, providing them with herd, home, rest, refuge and individualized care for life. As an accredited sanctuary, the habitat where the elephants live is not open to the public. Instead, nearly 3 million viewers annually observe these elephants just being elephants via live-streaming Elecams on our website at www.elephants.com.

Target demographics: older, sick and/or needy elephants

Direct beneficiaries per year: 13 elephants. Educational outreach on elephants was made available via Distance Learning to nearly 2,153 K-12 students in seventeen states and one foreign country. Seventy-one new EleAmbassadors were trained as volunteer representatives for The Sanctuary in 29 U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces. Nearly 1,400 visitors attended educational programs held at The Sanctuary's Welcome Center in downtown Hohenwald, TN. And 2.9 million individuals experienced The Elephant Sanctuary online.

Geographic areas served: Hohenwald, Tennessee

Programs: habitat care, nutritional care, health care and educational programs.

Community Stories

94 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I just volunteered for the second time...the first time was 4 years ago.
It was a very rewarding experience helping TES staff to get some extra things done, being able to talk to them directly about the things they do, seeing a bit of the sanctuary grounds and how the elephants live, and my favorite part is that I got to do something for these wonderful animals.
It was also great to see the progress made in 4 years, the wonderful education/welcome center they are developing, and their dedication to elephant conservation and care.
I hope to volunteer again in the future.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I could not be more thrilled the the opportunities I've had to volunteer with the Elephant Sanctuary. The staff involved are just the best and work hard to provide a unique and fun experience for everybody. Their knowledge and passion for the elephants at the sanctuary and for educating the public on proper treatment of wildlife is incredible. I have learned so much working with them and will continue to advocate on behalf of the sanctuary in every way I can going forward. I can't say enough about how impressed I am with the sanctuary staff and the work they do!

Anastasia I.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteer day at the elephant sanctuary is an unforgettable experience. We were able to clean up a lot of areas that sanctuary staff would otherwise not have the time to get to, and we were able to learn a lot more about the sanctuary and why it all matters. We were able to catch glimpses of the elephants from afar (though a viewing is not guaranteed), which helped to remind us all why we were there performing manual labor.

TES is truly an amazing place for elephants and humans alike to learn, rest, and be nurtured.

Donor

Rating: 5

what can be said but it is one of the premier true sanctuaries, if not the oly true sanctuary for eles in the usa and possibly the world. if your an elephant to be sent here is like you went to heaven and they deserve no less. to spend their last day or years here is the greatest.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to volunteer for a day at The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN this past weekend. The experience was everything I had hoped for and then some. Our leader, Todd, and one of the caregivers who accompanied us for the day, Joseph, were very knowledgeable, patient and enthusiastic about their mission. To see the impressive grounds (and luckily for us all of its 10 residents) in person was nothing short of extraordinary! Our day started with an informative background of the sanctuary and the elephants that have been retired there, as well enlightenment on the plight of these animals both in captivity and the wild. Afterwards, we started on a list of various projects for the day, which included weeding and mulching the garden beds at the education center, clearing the perimeter fence from encroaching honeysuckle vines, picking banana leaves and making treats for the elephants. Todd took the time to explain how each activity contributed to the greater operation of the sanctuary which is indeed awe-inspiring. And hearing about each elephant's personality and behavioral quirks from the caregivers we encountered really showed their respect and dedication to these magnificent animals. I do hope I will one day get the chance to volunteer my time to this wonderful organization again. In short, it's good for the soul!

Molly Shasteen
(Nashville, TN)

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My day of volunteering at The Elephant Sanctuary far exceeded any expectations that I'd had. I have been following and financially supporting the sanctuary for close to 20 years, so it was very interesting to see the operation in person. Every person that we encountered who worked at the sanctuary was very positive and clearly loved their jobs. And you can tell that lots and lots of hard work goes into keeping the sanctuary running smoothly.
The volunteer day was clearly planned and structured, but loose enough to easily accommodate bathroom, lunch and rest breaks. None of the tasks that we completed were too strenuous (weeding, making treats for the elephants) and it felt great to be able to make a little difference in the lives of the elephants.
And best of all: we were able to see all 10 resident elephants! I had prepared myself to not see any of them, so I'm still beyond thrilled that we were able to see them (some relatively close and some pretty far away) in such a free environment. It was an amazing, check-it-off-the-bucket-list kind of day!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering at The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN was nothing short of a spiritual experience for me. I have been a supporter of the Sanctuary for several years, but actually being there and seeing what this organization does is impressive. The facilities are spotless. The grounds are beautifully kept. And all this is accomplished 100% through private donations. The staff we interacted with obviously love their jobs and love the elephants. The elephants look HAPPY and are allowed to just be elephants. The Elephant Sanctuary is a beautiful organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We feel so lost in a world that seems to be disappearing...invaluable land being bulldozed away, senseless killings of animals, pollution and poverty overtaking our country...it feels overwhelming. Our world needs people to feel empowered that they can stand up to make a change. One way is supporting the Elephant Sanctuary. As a busy teacher, mom and wife , I don't always know the way to change what I see that is so wrong. Knowing I am helping to change the world for better in such a small way fills my heart with joy. Please consider helping this amazing organization. You will feel connected to these magnificent creatures!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We started our day at the Elephant Sanctuary Discovery Center. We met Todd there and he gave us some background on the elephants and the sanctuary. We then went to the sanctuary where we weeded, made treats and enrichment items for the elephants. We were able to see five of the elephants at various times during the day. The staff was fantastic, they answered all our questions and were very informative. It was very obvious how much they care for these animals. Volunteering was a wonderful experience and I am so glad I was given the opportunity.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I recently had the incredible opportunity to volunteer for a day at the Elephant Sanctuary. We started off in downtown Hohenwald at the Discovery Center, which is a beautiful facility with lots of fun, educational exhibits. From here we went to the Sanctuary, where we cleaned up brush along some of the fences, and made enrichment devices for the elephants (which we got to see used later in the day!). The day was extremely well organized, and very informative. While it was hard work, we got quite a bit of time for education purposes - learning about the elephants and how the sanctuary is run. You can see that the staff here are very passionate about what they do, and only want the best for these elephants. Overall it was an incredible experience which I would participate in again in a heartbeat.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was aware of this group since I live in the area, but am also gratified that they have the top rating from Charity Navigator for accountability, transparency, and financial management. They are also accredited by the Global Federatin of Animal Sanctuaries. Their primary mission is providing a caring, free-range environment for elephants who had lived lives of confinement or performing, and as such they are not open for public display or tours. They also perform a valuable educational mission about elephants and the threats to their survival both in captivity and in the wild.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

For my Spring Break, a group of my fellow students and I helped out at the Elephant Sanctuary for a week. Every day was such a rewarding experience. The staff set aside time to get to know us and teach us more about elephants and what we can do to help them. Todd Montgomery was a perfect leader and, along with every member, it was evident he truly loved his job and cared about the elephants. So much work goes into creating the best possible home for the elephants. They work hard to keep it clean and in tiptop shape. I have absolutely no complaints!

Ashton J.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This charity does amazing things for captive elephants that have had troubling past. Their organization is inspiring!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Elephant Sanctuary is truly heaven on earth for these elephants. Being given the opportunity to do tasks to support their care is amazing. I was so sad when the day was over. The staff is so great. We had tasks to do that we could see would directly impact the girls which was so rewarding. If you have the opportunity to volunteer, you will be blessed. Seeing the girls was an added bonus and I will never forget it.

Donor

Rating: 5

I fell in love at 6 years old with Alice, the first elephant I've ever met. Since the Elephant Sanctuary opened, I discovered a way to have that connection again, later in my life, by supporting this organization that offers a life home to retired zoo and circus elephants. The work and dedication the staff brings to enrich the lives and help "the girls" live out their days in rural Tennessee should be reconized and embraced for keeping the sanctuary a private place. Their outreach via the website and social media helps one be part of the elephants world and contribute to their well being and care. Support The Elephant Sanctuary today.

Diane201

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Elephant Sanctuary of Tennessee is an absolutely amazing facility. The care and love for these beautiful creatures is evident in many ways from the 2700 kept acres they provide for these retired elephants to roam to the daily foot care routine. The elephants are free to be elephants again. They are no longer for the amusement of humans; therefore, there are no tours. As one of a few people chosen to volunteer for a day of work, I did see some of the elephants but from a distance and never for extended lengths of time. The staff does this to make sure that the elephants do not get anxious or feel they are on display again. It's a TRUE sanctuary run by people who most definitely understand, love, and care passionately for these once abused and ill treated beauties. They ensure that retirement is as blissful as possible. I wish more elephants were this lucky.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a volunteer day at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee (TES). On a beautiful October day my partner and I made our way to the Sanctuary’s Elephant Discovery Center, where we met up with the other volunteers and the Sanctuary’s Education Manager, Todd. We followed him to the grounds of TES, where we spent a thoroughly enjoyable day assisting in various tasks (painting, clearing brush, etc.). We had all been emailed in advance to notify us what activities we would be participating in and what items we needed to bring, so everyone was well prepared with water bottles, sunscreen, etc.
Having done volunteer work for other groups, I found this experience to be one of the best organized and enjoyable endeavors I have undertaken. Todd kept us well informed about the Sanctuary and its operation. In addition, we learned a great deal about elephants and the problems they face in captivity as well as in the wild. We had the opportunity to spend a gorgeous fall day in beautiful middle Tennessee and though we were warned there was no guarantee we would see elephants, we caught a glimpse or two of these majestic animals. All in all this was a fantastic opportunity I hope presents itself again. The Elephant Sanctuary is a very worthy cause that I was happy to volunteer for.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It was an outstanding experience. It was hard sweaty work, but so worth it. The staff was so sincere about their commitment to the elephants. They were also very helpful and informative. I learned so much. It was an uplifting and rewarding experience.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a private Sanctuary who allow visiting volunteers to participate in improving the property only 8 times a year. You have to sign up for a lottery and hope to be drawn for opportunity to help.

My experience was everything that I hoped for. It was made very special through the stories from Stephanie and Todd helped us understand through the day. We would ask a million questions and it help to reveal the true love this staff has for their elephant family. They know them all by name, history and behavior. They are awe struck on their families' improvements as they get introduce on how to be a free elephant. Some take moments, other take months, but the time does not matter, they all the time they need to be free.

Please image for the first 30 - 40 years of your life, you were confined, poked, prodded, and chained. You had to do things unnatural or get punished. Then finally one glorious day you are given the chance to move to the Elephant Sanctuary. You are still in disbelief.

OH MY.... First you can't believe the unfamiliar freedom and positive reward the humans give you. You have never felt this kind of love and friendship. Then you get to discover other female elephants who want to get to know you and be friends. Really, others like me who want to be my friend? I don't know how to act.

Heaven on earth. That is the best way to describe what might be going on inside the minds of the lucky ones who get to live the rest of their MANY years at the 2, 700 acre private sanctuary. NEVER again on display or having to perform for humans.

Just being an elephant. Doing elephant things. And having humans who care.

Peace

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We were able to volunteer for an afternoon and it was so amazing to be put to work for such a good cause. Visiting the sanctuary is a unique experience and the volunteer experience makes me feel closer to this charity that is doing good for these elephants. I would highly recommend this experience and donating your time (and money) to this charity. It's a beautiful area and I feel lucky to have been able to go.