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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

117 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a proud supporter of The Elephant Sanctuary for several years now and fully intend on making it a lifelong commitment. Dear friends of mine, who love all four-legged creatures but especially elephants, first introduced me to the organization. I was impressed with the concept of offering sanctuary to these gentle giants, who give so much joy and have had so much taken from them. What was even more impressive, though, was how devoted the staff was to caring for the animals. The genuine love for the elephants came through in every newsletter and email that was forwarded and the elecams were a stroke of genius! Since we cannot actually visit Shirley, Misty, and the gang in their new home, watching their antics on camera are the next best thing. The most touching of all was the beautiful story of Tarra and Bella, whose death brought me to tears. The world could learn a thing or two from these amazing animals and I am grateful that The Elephant Sanctuary gives us such a forum. Blessings to all involved...

1 swellgalmary

Donor

Rating: 5

I have loved elephants since I was a child and as I got older I began to understand that many of them are used in circuses and exhibits and are mistreated and lonely. One day I happened upon the Elephant Sanctuary and was astonished by the work they do and the elephants they serve.

You can tell by their communication with the public that they love and RESPECT these great animals. They take in the ones that have been broken and downhearted for a long time and give them a chance to be an elephant for the first time in an environment where they can roam free and just be what God intended them to be.

Their website is informative and fun to visit and the Elecams are great. You get a chance to see the girls having fun. One day I was lucky enough to see them having a great time in the rain. It made me smile for days. I also know it is teaching a new generation about elephants and how they should be treated.

I wish there was no Elephant Sanctuary -- not because they don't do wonderful and necessary work -- but because I wish elephants were never put in situations that these girls have been put in. But since my wish is not true I am so thankful for the Elephant Sanctuary and will continue to be a supporter as long as I can.

1 Annette21

Donor

Rating: 5

My sister introduced me to ES a few years ago. I have been in ele love ever since. We donate to a number of animal shelters throughout the US. What makes ES different, aside from the fact that it is for elephants, is that is a truly a sanctuary. I watch the elecam almost every day. I am always impressed by the fact that the "girls", as ES lovingly refers to them, can spend their days any way they want. No one interferes with their daily agenda or forces them to do anything. The reward is that the girls delight us with their amazing grace and often silly antics. I have learned so much about eles from the Sanctuary -- that eles are extremely sensitive, even emotional. I always heard they were intelligent, but from watching the elecam I see it first hand. They are playful and have a sense of humor. They are susceptible to TB and their feet need constant attention. They are remarkably agile. Aside from the medical care, good nutrition and enrichment provided to these exquisite creatures, what impresses me most is the profound respect, compassion and tenderness the caregivers have for them. I was so disappointed to hear that I could never actually meet the eles in person. But then I realized that this is the point of the sanctuary! These animals have been abused and neglected by humans for so long, they must dread the sight of most humans. Who can blame them? They deserve peace and a safe haven without human interference. Kudos to The Elephant Sanctuary and caregivers for providing acres of land, care and love to these incredible, precious animals. Love to All!

2 Kim_144

Donor

Rating: 5

Dear Friends,

There are countless, wonderful non-profit organizations that do so much. It can sometimes be overwhelming, trying to help them all. I have donated to many in my life. When I came upon this one years ago, I was certain that their efforts and goals were straight from the heart, and hope was no longer lost for the elephants that are being "trained/beaten" for selfish human reasons. Elephants are one of the smartest, sweetest, loyal creatures on earth, and for circuses, zoos, and traveling side shows to utilize them for their greedy money making shows is outrageous. What they do to them is abhorrent. I have picketed the circuses, and write countless letters to organizations and to the newspapers in hopes that it may educate even one person. When I found this wonderful organization, that seeks elephants out and with great perseverance, eventually rescues and adopts them from their nightmare of a life, my heart cried with joy, and gave my heart a ray of hope and sunshine. And the fact that the Elephant Sanctuary does not permit spectators, only the ele-cam, that just proves their utmost loyalty back to these beautiful creatures that deserve the peace and respect they finally are receiving. I invite and encourage anyone to send even a small amount, $10, $20, $50 or place them in your will... to ensure these souls receive the special diet, medical attention and that the staff can continue tending to their paradise on earth....which is what God had intended in the beginning anyway. Kudos to the Elephant Sanctuary! I hope in my lifetime, with the help of the Elephant Sanctuary, all circuses and side shows who en-cage and chain these wonderful creatures will cease. Most Sincerely, Kim Sedgwick, Macomb, IL

1 Milena S.

Donor

Rating: 5

I love this Sanctuary ,what it represents and does. I wanted to be a part of the girls (elephants) lives so I adopted Shirley, one of the many elephants that are living out the rest of their lives just the way they're meant to. FREE . Please go visit this amazing site and read all about how the dedicated volunteers make such a difference in the elephants (girls) lives. They even have an elecam, that's right, there are camera's all over the sanctuary and you can view the girls in their natural habitat. Sometimes doing nothing other times being silly or just hanging with their girlfriends. Or better yet go and adopt one of the girls.
I'm looking forward to many long and happy years of watching the ladies of The Elephant Sanctuary.
Please take a moment and visit the girls at www.elephants.com .

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I've always loved elephants since I was 5 years old and my Mom would take us to the Zoo. The elephants were way in the back and I bugged to go there first. It was sad because the aroma was not the best and my Mom didn't do well with bad odors. It always stuck with me how sad the conditions were. Once I heard about the Sanctuary I decided this was the perfect place to get involved.
Every year at Christmas what I would have spent to buy my brothers gift )(who pasted away in 1994) would go to the Sanctuary. I also found they had different gifts for friends and family. I have kept track on different issues and told a lot of others regarding this place. It is awesome and they do really great things for the elephants.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

i help spread the world about this wonderful sanctuary for our greatest cousins

circus cruelty is where most come from; the E.S. helps them live normal lives again

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have enjoyed the Elephant sanctuary for a few months now. I work in a stressful field (police dispatch) and I find watching the elephants very relaxing and helps with my stress level. I have donated to the sanctuary because I feel it meets a need that most people do not realize is out there. Recently I was able to go to the Welcome Center and was very impressed with the people. It is very educational and worth sharing with others. I have recommended the sanctuary to several friends and I know they have passed it along to others. I hope the Elephant Sanctuary will be able to get the funds it needs to continue to inform and educate the public and take care of the retired and/or abused elephants that it needs to.

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wonderful day to work outside. So nice to see how previous volunteers' work has helped with the upkeep on the sanctuary.

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Elephant Sanctuary is such a special place and the staff are just as special. They genuinely care for the elephants and strive to make it a true sanctuary. I was honored to volunteer alongside them and would gladly serve again.

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is such a wonderful place that put their elephants first every day. I have never met more caring group people who have devoted their time to care for elephants. It is such a honor to volunteer for The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

Review from Guidestar

2 Dawna2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was taken back when I first read about The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. This is one organization that is 100% on board helping the elephants that are in their care. The organization is up front and accountable for everything they do. Their web site explains, in detail, how the sanctuary came about to present day. Emphasis on educating the public about the plight of Elephants in the wild, zoos and circuses is a major goal of theirs that I believe in. I live , not far, from another Elephant sanctuary who's main goal is breeding. I was so disappointed to find out the conditions these Elephants are living in and the misleading information available to the public for this "breeding farm" NOT SANCTUARY!
Yes, I love Elephants and believe that The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is the best in the United States. I live 11 hrs. away but have dedicated myself to help out in anyway that I can.
Once you check out their web site, you will fall in love with them and form a special relationship and understanding with the Elephants. The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is the REAL thing. Check them out--you will not be disappointed.

Review from Guidestar

1 Emily80

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I went into the trip expecting it to not be very fun but i was very pleasantly surprised. I left with a vastly improved knowledge of elephants and what we can do to help them. I really enjoyed working to help such a good cause and hearing all of the amazing stories of the elephants lives.

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I thoroughly enjoyed my volunteering experience. I felt as though the Sanctuary staff were very friendly and knowledgable about the elephants and their role in their lives.

Review from Guidestar

1 Jana V.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering at The Elephant Sanctuary was more than I could ask for. I came along as the staff person for an Alternative Spring Break trip through Appalachian State University. I was told we would probably not event get to see elephants. We saw a ton! It was great seeing them so happy in their environment. During the volunteer week we were able to transplant bamboo for the Elephants, plant fruit bearing trees of Apples and Pears, and plant more grape vines that will be used as treats for the elephants. We also cleaned out a barn that had not been used for about 20 years. Now it can be updated and used for storage and a place for the Elephants to go during poor weather conditions. We also cleaned out a tool shed and raked leaves for the Elephants to eat. We even cut down tree limbs. We did so much more than this...Everything we did we got to see how it was used or it was explained to us how it was used. The orientation when we arrived was so helpful in learning the plight of elephants. The staff was friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. Everyone should be so lucky as to volunteer here. You could tell everyone there loved not just elephants, but all animals.

Review from Guidestar

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I am proud to be a part of the support for The Elephant Sanctuarry. They do very important work providing a home for these amazing beings, I feel that my money is well spent, supporting their dedication and exhaustive efforts to make a good life of retirement in nature for our Elephant friends.

Review from Guidestar

1 Yvonne13

Donor

Rating: 5

I am passionate that the time has come and gone in our society for animals, especially large and wild animals like elephants, big cats and orcas, to no longer be kept in captivity such as zoos, circuses, and sea shows and exploited for our so-called amusement. While society is not there yet, The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN. has taken a sacred oath to see that captive elephants have a free and unfettered end to their lives in the company of other elephants and away from the eyes of the public. Through the miracles of technology, we, the public, can watch these elephants on the elecam and through the Sanctuary's YouTube videos. It's no longer acceptable to chain these beautiful creatures and make them perform for us. To see them live out their lives with their best friends, other elephants, is magnificent. I believe The Elephant Sanctuary is an amazing organization.

Review from Guidestar

2

Donor

Rating: 4

The folks slamming this nonprofit simply because the ED was ousted.... your pettiness only hurts the organization and the elephants. This is a great nonprofit.

Review from Guidestar

5

Volunteer

Rating: 1

Since Carol Buckley was ousted in an ugly coup, the Sanctuary has tenuously maintained a facade of its old self but, in reality, it has been eviscerated. It's run by a board that knows and cares about money, not elephants. There is no one -- no one -- on staff with anything remotely approaching Carol's knowledge of, experience with and deep affinity for elephants.

As to Marcella Smith's comments about Carol: A few years ago Marcella wanted to build a house on property she bought bordering the Sanctuary. To enter her property from the front to build the house would have required her to build a bridge across a stream, which she could not afford. Instead, Marcella wanted construction crews to be able to drive THROUGH part of the Sanctuary habitat to reach her property. Carol refused, given the disruption it would have caused to the elephants and their daily lives. Ms. Smith is obviously still angry.

There are many people who idolized Carol Buckley but, since the coup, have demonized her. Their comments should be taken with a large grain of salt. And those who hold to their belief that nothing has changed at the Sanctuary show their lack of knowledge of the therapeutic process Carol developed there.

I would advise potential donors to stay away from the Sanctuary until Carol Buckley returns.

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 2

I am no longer employed as Director of Husbandry at the Sanctuary. I left just a few months after Rob Atkinson, CEO, left. Janice Zeitlin is acting CEO. Susan Mikota is Director of Veterinary Services. [This website asks me to rate the Sanctuary: I do not wish to rate the Sanctuary so I have selected the middle rating in each category and the same number of stars it already had to satiate the demand of the site without meaning to imply any opinion about the sanctuary in my rating.]

Review from CharityNavigator