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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

97 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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

Donor

Rating: 5

I am not certain how I first found out about the Elephant Sanctuary, but am very happy I did. The work these people do is just wonderful. Not only do they rescue and care for these wonderful creatures, but there are also stray dogs who find a home. Great story about Tarra and Bella, although a sad ending. Love the elecams, it's like you are right there with them. Have been donating for 12 years and watched many changes occur, i.e. visitor's center. Hope to get there soon for my own visit!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

As an educator in a high poverty school in urban Indianapolis, IN we are constantly trying to get real-world connections for our students. During a unit on fiction vs. non-fiction, I had a group of 1st grade students who were reading the story of Tara & Bella. The teacher and I were really excited to learn that the sanctuary still existed from the book and we got in touch with them. They tailored a unit of study for our students to meet our needs and connected with us virtually. The connection truly impacted our students and they will remember it for years to come!

1 Carol-Duckworth

Donor

Rating: 5

Since I was a small child I have felt a connection to elephants. The article I recently read on the web about Raju, the 50 year old elephant who cried when he was being rescued brought me to tears. I decided that day to make some donation to organizations who are trying to help these wonderful creatures. I found The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and read almost their entire website. I read all of the elephants bios, which I absolutely loved! I also read about how elephants suffer from PTSD which greatly impacted me. I made a donation that day to the ele girls in Tennessee and I will continue to do so over the years to come.

I feel really grateful that these magnificient spirits are being cared for by such thoughtful and hard working people. I will do what I can to spread the word of the important work that is being done for these dear elephants in Tennesssee. One day I hope to go to Tennessee and volunteer for the girls. Until then I will make donations to help with their care.
Thank you to everyone who donated and especially to everyone that takes the time to care for these special enities.
Love to you and God bless.
Carol Duckworth

1 Lori108

Volunteer

Rating: 4

The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee provides a safe haven where “sick, old, and needy elephants” can live out their lives in peace with each other. An elephant sanctuary is a huge undertaking and expenses are enormous. Since I am cautious by nature, I researched the charitable ratings for the Elephant Sanctuary before donating. I was very pleased to see that Charity Navigator gave the sanctuary a four star rating (out of four) and provided a breakdown of where donations go. The Better Business Bureau site (give.org) also accredited the sanctuary for meeting the twenty standards used by the BBB to rate charitable organizations.
Until I read the book “Behemoth” I never gave much thought to captive elephants. Elephants killed by poachers for their ivory tusks are, sadly, not a new phenomenon, but elephants in captivity were not in such danger. It wasn’t until I discovered the Elephant Sanctuary (through mention in “Behemoth”) that I realized how terrible the lives of these creatures have been.
Be assured that your contributions are going to a very worthwhile endeavor. The sanctuary must provide veterinary care, medications, food, and shelter on its 2,700 acres. Please donate to help this worthy cause. The elephants will never forget!

2

Donor

Rating: 5

Much damage has been done to our dear earth and her animals by mankind. The Elephant Sanctuary is one way to make things right. They are very passionate, professional, kind and effective in running this charity and I happily and proudly lend a financial hand when I can. I sorely wish I could do so much more. My motto is KINDNESS TO ALL LIVING THINGS and this certainly holds true with the staff and mission of The Elephant Sanctuary. I am very thankful for the second chance these elephants have to live the last years of their lifes in loving care and a natural environment. What the staff does takes courage, heart, determination and strength and I send many, many thanks to them. I always end my correspondence to them with "love to the staff and girls" (all but one of the elephants being female). I have written this review in the hopes their kindness and efforts will never go unnoticed.