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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

86 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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