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Elephant Sanctuary

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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

102 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wonderful.
Knowing I was doing something to benefits those majestic animals
was humbling

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Great cause! There care for the welfare of elephants is inspiring. The elecams are a great way to share the experience

1 M. Eileen H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What The Elephant Sanctuary stands for and accomplishes is impressive to me. In addition to the wonderful work they do with their special elephants, they have an education center in Hohenwald, TN, minutes away from the Sanctuary. They also publish a newsletter that keeps all of us elephant supporters updated on each girl. Their web site is one of the best I have seen in that the history of each elephant can be easily found as well as all of the archived reports about what is going on there on a daily basis.

The unique way that staff write about their charges and tell delightful stories about their every-day activities pulls people into their lives and makes them really care about the elephants and their Sanctuary.

Individuals with strong interests are invited to volunteer at the Sanctuary for one day each year. I did this last year, and it was one of the bigger thrills of my life. It was wonderful meeting Todd, the education director, and all of the other staff and volunteers working there that day.

I have also been trained as an Ele-Ambassador to present programs in my community. The Sanctuary has trained people from all over the country. to be Ele-ambassadors.

I find it easy to donate to the Sanctuary for several reasons. First, because of their outstanding communications I feel that I know personally each of the elephants by name and want to contribute to their well-being as well as participate in many of the fun celebrations that the Sanctuary promotes such as buying a candle for Shirley's 65th birthday or participating in a fun run for Billy.

The Sanctuary continually strives to improve the environment for the "girls" and involve volunteers in the activities conducted there. Another reason I find donating easy is because of their low key approach to fund-raising. The appeals are always very positive and uplifting. And unlike other places to whom I have donated The Sanctuary does not start asking for more money immediately after I donate.

Another way The Sanctuary connects interested people to the elephants is through the cameras mounted around the Sanctuary. Viewers can watch the girls napping, pushing over a tree, swimming in the several ponds, and playing with and enjoying each others company.

The Sanctuary is a peaceful and authentic place that treats its charges with the utmost respect and care. Staff inform the interested about each elephant's activities on a daily basis. We are happy when progress is reported and so sad when we learn of losses.

The Elephant Sanctuary is the only charitable organization I have ever been associated with where I actually feel like part of a family.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm not sure how I first found The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, but the day I found it on-line I was hooked. The website is so helpful with its easily accessible archives, photos, and elephant biographies that I visit it almost every day. The people who write the stories do so in such a tender and loving way that I feel that I personally know each of the Sanctuary residents--both current and past. Many of the stories have brought me to tears of both sadness and happiness.

This Sanctuary is doing phenomenal work with old, sick, abused and/or needy elephants who have been cooped up in zoos and circuses for their whole lives, often without companionship or proper care. They have frequently been captured as babies and taken from their mothers and families to be shipped and sold many times over. The Sanctuary exists to provide a loving, nurturing retirement for these magnificent animals at the conclusion of their mainly sad and abusive working lives.

The Sanctuary is doing educational outreach using eager and willing volunteers (Ele-Ambassadors) to talk to schools and organizations about the nature of elephants and how that nature is being honored and supported through the thousands of acres now owned by the Elephant Sanctuary and the ongoing building and medical care that is constantly required.

The Sanctuary solicits donations, but in a very genuine and non-aggressive way. It also provides the dedicated volunteers with opportunities to serve the elephants on a few days of the year by working at the Sanctuary (but not interacting with the elephants). As one of the new volunteers I understand that the elephants (or the "Girls" as they are called) will not be on display because those days are over for them. Their only responsibility is for themselves--to live with others of their kind, wander the hills and valleys and water features to their hearts' content. The staff keep track of them, bring them hay and snacks and toys and keep their barns clean and fresh. Just as important is that the staff treats the elephants with the deepest respect. They know the mostly sad life stories of the Girls and celebrate their new lives of freedom from chains and cages at every opportunity.

I believe that The Elephant Sanctuary is a most worthy charity. Anyone wishing to donate or volunteer can be assured that their donations will find their way directly to those most deserving of them--the Girls and everything that they need to enjoy a peaceful, safe retirement.

1 Rachael14

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a volunteer for this non profit and have been a huge admirer of Carol Buckley for some time now. Everyone that works at this sanctuary has their full heart and commitment. They truly care about the elephants and getting them as comfortable and as close to their natural life as possible. Such a magical place, and they are forever expanding their knowledge in ways that can help the elephants here and even elephants all over the world that are in need.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

The elephant sanctuary of Tennessee is a true sanctuary! The elephants have 2700 acres of space. Free will barns and freedom to choose what they do and where they are 24/7. No human contact aside from the caregivers. No bull hooks! No punishment! They are able to form new herds and friendships. It is literally heaven on earth for elephants!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I discovered this charity many years ago after reading an article about them. I visited their website and was completely hooked! After several years of keeping up to date and becoming more and more informed about the plight of captive elephants and the opportunity The Elephant Sanctuary offers to retired pachyderms, I offered to use my expertise as a public speaker to spread the word about TES. For the last few years, I have spent numerous hours speaking to groups all over Massachusetts, sharing my knowledge of The Elephant Sanctuary's mission. More recently, I became an official Ele-Ambassador for the non-profit. One of the things that impressed me early-on about TES is that when I offered to speak on their behalf, I told them that I would not do it as part of a fundraising campaign. My goal was only to educate the publice. They were perfectly fine with that, which says a lot about an organization that depends on donations to survive. Another impressive thing about TES is that they do not allow visitors to their actual Sanctuary site, as they believe that the elephants in their Sanctuary have done their time being on display and should be allowed to live out their lives in peace. Without a doubt, allowing the public to visit the habitat would certainly give them the opportunity to collect additional donations, but they have always stayed true to their mission, which is certainly something that should be lauded.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been teaching my Kindergarten students about The Elephant Sanctuary for 14 years. When I first saw an interview on TV I was hooked. It was then I understood what circus and zoo elephants have to endure to show us a few minutes of tricks and live a life of confinement. I'm sure not one of these Majestic mammals would choose this life of incarceration instead of living with their family in the wild. We blew it and now The Elephant Sanctuary is giving them a life as close to the wild as possible. My students love to hear the stories of the girls, their favorite foods and who their best friend is but it saddens us to hear how tiny they were when many were taken from their Mothers. I show my students many of the playful You Tube videos but our favorite time is watching the live Webcam during our center time! These 5 year olds have more empathy than some adults. They realize it's not about us, it's about how the elephants feel. It comes down to our #1 class rule "Be kind to others on the inside and outside". This includes animals. The Sanctuary is not open to the public so the girls can truly live as an elephant should. I donate each month because it is my hope that in my lifetime we will no longer have any elephants in zoos or circuses. I tell anyone I can about TES and I hear so often "I just didn't know". We need to treat these great emotional creatures to a better life, a sanctuary life.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Elephant Sanctuary is a very worthwhile charity. Not only do they have a solid Charity Navigator review, their cause is unique, being one of only two elephant sanctuaries in North America. My donations are always promptly acknowledged. Their ancillary programs help educate the public on important conservation matters. TES oversees a volunteer ambassador program, distance learning for schoolchildren, all in addition to the primary mission of elephant caretaking. If you watch their webcams it's easy to see success in that most important area. The "girls" are obviously happy as they splash around in the ponds, explore the 2700 acre habitat, and lay down to sleep while outside (something an e lephant only does when she feels safe and secure. It's a wonderful organization!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

What can I say about this fabulous organization?!? The work they do is amazing! I love to log on and watch what the girls )as I think of them) are doing today. I have a very shy 9 year old and talking to people about the Elephant Sanctuary has really helped her come out of her shell. We did distance learning program it was fabulous!! The kids learned all about elephants and the Elephant Sanctuary. It brings tears to my eyes to watch them be truly elephants as nature intended!!!!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is the largest, most well thought out refuge in the country for our largest land mammal. Those fortunate enough to receive sanctuary here live out their days in the freedom, dignity, and society they deserve.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

These people are doing amazing things in Tennessee! The care and compassion that is shown to these animals is truly unbelievable. It warms my heart to know what a difference is being made in these majestic animals lives by these extraordinary people!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with this organization for some time and have seen in person the dedication and care given to these elephants, the educational outreach and the support that is provided to the volunteers. The entire Sanctuary is funded through donations.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A beautiful place in South Central Tennessee where elephants can roam. It's a great sanctuary where the girls (the elephants) get the best of everything, food, medical care and enrichment. When I have volunteered there, the staff wad welcoming and knowledgeable. The girls health and safety is always the number one priority.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My friend Rosanne Sietins helps raise awareness and funding for this organization which is located here in Tennessee. They take in old and sick elephants at the end of their days in the circus or zoos and give them a habitat where they can roam for miles as elephants do in the wild. They also educate the public about keeping these huge sensitive beasts contained in small areas, and forcing them to perform with whips and chains in the circus is animal cruelty. Elephants care deeply about each other and people who kindly take care of them and may revolt when mistreated. The sanctuary provides a safe place for them to live out their days and treats their injuries and diseases.

3 Debra58

Donor

Rating: 5

Fabulous place for retired elephants to live. No detail is forgotten to ensure their lives are spent happy and healthy! TES is a forerunner in how a sanctuary should be.

I am proud to endorse this nonprofit as one of the very best sanctuaries in the US.

Previous Stories
5

Donor

Rating: 5

I discovered The Elephant Sanctuary after viewing the documentary 'Urban Elephant.' The story of Shirley and her long lost friend, Jenny. After further investigation I joined the supportive group, The Elefans, and the rest is history! This is one of two places in the US that offers true sanctuary for captive elephants. The elephants are free to roam, eat, sleep wherever and whenever they wish. They are not used for breeding or entertainment and there are no visitors allowed. This is a good thing as all of these elephants are the product of the cruelty of the circus and substandard zoos. I adore the Ele Cam which gives glimpses of these majestic beings living as they should: free of expectations of humans. I encourage everyone to give what they can as this place always needs the support.

1 SusanBC

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a supporter of the Elephant Sanctuary in TN since 2003, with the retirement of a local elephant named Tina. Until that moment in time, I had no idea of the cruelties associated with animals in captivity, in this instance, elephants. I have learned so much about these majestic animals and while it is sad that they can never be back in the wild, having the Sanctuary give them space to roam and the ability to be an elephant again without having to perform for people or 'earn their keep' has made such an impact in their lives. Very few of these dear souls arrive in perfect health, but with time and a lot of tlc, good food, fresh air and lots of room to stretch their legs, they are able to enjoy their lives to the fullest for the rest of their days. Please take the time to browse through their website, visit the cam page and also their many youtube moments!

Previous Stories
1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I learned of this wonderful organization in 2003, with the long awaited retirement from a local zoo, of a lone Asian elephant named Tina. I was never comfortable at a zoo or circus in my younger days, but did not have a clue what kind of lives elephants faced everyday in captivity. Internet was new to us then and what a world it opened up. These elephants truly do live the life they were meant to live, short of being free, with acre upon acre of open space, spring fed ponds, natural vegetation and top quality care both in caregivers and vet staff . The Sanctuary does have a volunteer program which fills up pretty quickly and what I like is that there is no access to the public for 'viewing'. The elephants no longer have to perform for anyone or do silly tricks. Being a long time 'fan', I have shared joy in each new arrival, each new milestone, as well a shed a lot of tears for those that have passed away. Even in the sadness, I have been thankful that these gentle souls have lived the end of their lives in peace and in love in their own little Heaven on earth. Thank you 'TES' for all you have done and all you will continue to do for the Elephants.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Spending a day at the sanctuary was an amazing opportunity! I had no expectations of seeing any of the sanctuary elephants but Flora greeted us with a big wave of her ears as we were heading to the African barn to do some polishing and shining of what was already a very clean area. The Elephant Sanctuary is a godsend for the elephants who were taken from their families as youngsters, chained most of their lives and forced to perform in circuses learning behaviors that are not natural elephant behaviors. The sanctuary provides a safe haven where they can live the rest of their lives in freedom just being elephants!
It was a joy to also see the caring and happiness of the staff when talking about or watching the elephants. The sanctuary staff are outstanding advocates for all elephants but especially the "gang" entrusted to their care! I am proud to have met and worked with Stephanie and Kelley
on my volunteer day!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I’m a donor who recently volunteered for a day. It was gratifying to be able to lend a hand at this special place, and fun to meet some of the staff and hear their stories. The employees are knowledgable and care deeply about the elephants.

The Elephant Sanctuary provides much-needed safe haven and care for elephants, enabling them to live out their remaining lives in comfort and with the companionship of other elephants. The elephants are free to roam the forests and fields and play in the ponds or stay in the heated barns when it’s chilly outside. This is a fantastic organization.

I will continue to donate to The Elephant Sanctuary, and hope to have the opportunity to volunteer again.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I have her twice at the sanctuary. Both times were wonderful experiences. The people that work there seem dedicated and genuine and their commitment to providing these wonderful elephants with the high quality of life that they so deserve.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is like no other place on earth. I know this and I've never even been there, and I probably will not ever go there -- but here's why: This organization takes care of old, rescued, orphaned and sick elephants in as natural a habitat as can be given to these wonderful fellow beings. The Elephant Sanctuary offers no human visitation (other than what is necessary for the elephants' health) because they want to give these elephants as much of a natural and happy life as they have left on this earth. They want the elephants to live out their lives with each other. To me, The Elephant Sanctuary represents the epitome of love and caring: Giving without expecting anything in return.

Review from Guidestar