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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

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

2

Donor

Rating: 1

Rob Atkinson has also left now and they are in search of another CEO. The other co-founder left this year. The ones that need to go are the board of directors.

Review from CharityNavigator

Previous Stories
3

Donor

Rating: 1

They have now rid themselves of the other co-founder Scott Blais. The BOD have replaced his $35k salary with 3 new director positions at an unknown cost. They never file their 990 until the last minute and then it is almost two years old.

Review from CharityNavigator

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3

Donor

Rating: 5

I write this review in memory of a dog named Bella. Who, without the Elephant Sanctuary, would have never known the love of an elephant named Tara. The Elephant sanctuary is a peaceful place for elephants to live out their years with plenty of room to be...elephants.

6

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I think that supporters of Carol should be ashamed of themselves. Have you read the legal response of TES to Carol's self-serving & grossly inaccurate lawsuit? Sorry folks, your hero is a psychotic, & the BOD did not disclose the ugly details for the best of intentions. Carol needs way more help than she is capable of giving. Kudos to the BOD for handling such an unfortunate & miserable situation with tactfulness & concern for the mission. My heartfelt condolences to the employees & interns who suffered Carol's abuse.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am so very glad to be a donor of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. I noticed that the sanctuary lost its five star rating when Ms. Buckley was still in power, she was not suppended until the end of 2009. I also see she rejected the opportunity to visit Tarra. I also see the TB situation with the care staff were during her reign. I am very thankful that there is 3 people in the HUGE and overwhelming amount of work that was Scott's job, I look back and wish Ms. Buckley had done that sooner for Scott and the Girls. I am very proud to be a donor for the sanctuary, because no matter what is going on in administration, the girls still need their food and I love the Girls!

Review from CharityNavigator

3 Mary23456789101112

Donor

Rating: 1

Why should I continue to donate to an organization whose Baord of Directors ousted the very insirational primary founder and CEO, but did not make that info public until months afterwards so they could continue to solicit donations in her name? This charity does not file mandatory paperwork in a timely manner. The last 990 covers 2009. They were late in filing the proper paperwork to maintain their non-profit status in the state of Tennessee. They do not publicly list their Board of Directors identities nor remuneration on their website. This organization has not submitted to independent financial audit. Their overall Charity Navigator rating has fallen to 3 stars. There are just too many issues with this organization for me to maintain my desire to contribute. There are other elephant welfare organizations that have transparent operations and I believe are more worthy of my hard earned money.

Review from CharityNavigator

5

Donor

Rating: 1

I had been a donor for eleven years because of the excellence of the dream that Carol Buckley created for old, sick, and needy elephants. I kept in touch with what they did during all that time, through newsletters, web site, national news media, and special programs about animals that included The Elephant Sanctuary. All during this time, they did everything right! I contributed all I could and even set up a trust that was to go to them upon my passing.

Now, however, that evil people, attracted by the money good people have donated to help the elephants, have descended into the Sanctuary, huge amounts of money are being given to spouses of board members and to contractors who have done no work. Worst of all, they have, in a coup that blindsided her, ousted Carol Buckley, the inspiration for The Elephant Sanctuary, without whom the Sanctuary never would have existed or have been the excellent refuge for beleaguered elephants that it was. They knew she would never stand for their evil acts -- in fact, she closed the bank account from which the spouse and contractor had been paid!! This is all described in the lawsuit Carol filed against the Sanctuary, referenced in a comment above.

4

Donor

Rating: 1

I have supported The Elephant Sanctuary for years. I even have my front
license plate from this organization. I read "Water for Elephants" and can't help but want to help those beautiful creatures. However, the news
letters have changed and I have become suspicious of the new organization. Why is is possible for the "founders" to be fired. My biggest concern right now is the elephants and their care. I have noticed that more have died and fewer have found sanctuary since these changes have occured. Shame on you.

7

Donor

Rating: 1

I have donated to this charity for several years, but stopped in this last year when I had more questions than answers given.

Donor beware as this charity has lost its non-profit status with the State of Tennessee.

Review from CharityNavigator

6

Donor

Rating: 1

Fifteen years ago, Carol Buckley had a dream for her personally owned elephant. That dream was The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee. She built this dream into a reality and became nationally known as one of the foremost authorities on the rehabilitation of sick and exploited zoo and circus elephants. She sacrificed her own personal comfort and wealth in order to build a place where elephants would be safe and put aside enough money to insure their well-being for years to come. One day, a hostile takeover from within the ranks, threw Carol out and The Elephant Sanctuary (TES) has been turned into a high dollar organization. High salaried CEOs have been hired, PR people, attorneys, and more "management staff" than Carol needed to run the entire sanctuary. My husband and I have not only stopped donating, since the very things that drew us to TES have all been removed and/or changed, and TES is NOT the sanctuary that it was first set up to be. We have also removed them from our Living Trust Endowment Fund. Until Carol Buckley is put back at the helm, we want nothing to do with this charity. They have never been truthful with the donors and have erased Carol from her own vision, dream and reality. They are taking credit for everything with the co-founder now claiming to be the founder. If you love elephants, do NOT donate to The Elephant Sanctuary. They are not disclosing all of the truth.

Review from CharityNavigator

5 Laura C.

Donor

Rating: 1

The sanctuary was founded in 1995 by two people, Carol Buckley and Scott Blais. There is an error on the Guidestar profile of sanctuary People. Mr. Scott Blais is listed as Founder which is incorrect. When two people perpetuate an enterprise, they forever remain each a Co-founder. To call one person Founder, is to steal the entire endeavor from the other. However this occurred, it needs to be corrected immediately. The other Co-founder, Ms. Buckley, was removed by a vote. Essentially, the vision, the elephant responsible for the vision, and it remains to be seen how much more, seem to have been taken from Ms. Buckley. The reason for this thus far remains a secret.

3

Donor

Rating: 2

So glad that I stopped donating to them just about the time that Carol was ousted. Lots of fishy and malicious stuff seems to have been and continues to be going on. Shame on them. Review a lot of stuff here - http://www.carolbuckley.com/pdf/Lawsuit_Oct2010.pdf. Thank you to the other reviewer B Ko for the info! : - ) There are two sides to every story - but wow!!!

They seem to still help elephants (thank goodness) - but now you have to wonder how YOUR money is truly being used - payments to the Board's spouses - contractors that do not do any work, etc...

Review from CharityNavigator

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Why is Carol Buckley still listed as an employee, when she was ousted awhile ago? In fact, she has sued the sanctuary (http://www.carolbuckley.com/pdf/Lawsuit_Oct2010.pdf).

Something seems odd here.

Review from CharityNavigator