News Archive : 2008

Spend New Year's Eve With the Elephants!
Happy New Year Everyone!

Elephant Sanctuary Haven For Abused Pachyderms
Carol Buckley and Scott Blais opened the sanctuary in 1995. It is the nation’s first natural habitat refuge for sick, old and formerly abused elephants. Currently, 18 elephants reside at the 2,700 acre refuge hidden in the hills outside of Hohenwald. The most recent addition is 21-year-old Ned, a 7,250 pound elephant recently confiscated by the USDA for his owner’s failure to comply with the Animal Welfare Act. Ned arrived at the refuge severely emaciated. He is being cared for at the Elephant Sanctuary until he can be moved to a permanent home in a sanctuary under construction in San Andreas, Calif.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas (as told by Dulary)
Hi everyone at the Elephant Sanctuary! I just wanted to let you know that I love the work you are doing at the sanctuary! My mom and I wrote this story for you.

Do Zoos Shorten Elephant Life Spans?
A new and controversial study in tomorrow's issue of Science suggests that captivity is so bad for female elephants' health and overall well-being that their life spans are less than that of half of those of protected populations in Africa and Asia. The data also indicate that captive-born Asian elephant calves are particularly likely to die young.

Zoo Life Erodes Elephant Health, Study Finds
Using data on more than 4,500 elephants, the researchers found empirical evidence that zoos cause shortened adult life spans in both African and Asian elephants. In the most endangered species of elephant, the Asian, calf death rates were also elevated.

Tuskless Elephants Evolving in China
This article was originally published in July of 2005, but it is still very timely and interesting. A recent study has predicted that more male Asian elephants in China will be born without tusks because poaching of tusked elephants is reducing the gene pool, the China Daily has reported.

The Elephant Sanctuary is Charity of the Day on Dec. 3, 2008
The Elephant Sanctuary is Charity of The Day December 3 on both GoodShop and GoodSearch. More than 700 top retailers have teamed up with GoodShop, and every time you place an order, a percentage of each order will be donated to the Sanctuary. And remember to use for all your web searches, and we’ll receive a penny every time you do a search!!

USA TODAY - "10 great places to put the 'giving' in Thanksgiving"
In today's issue of USA Today, The Elephant Sanctuary is featured as "a great place to put the 'giving' in Thanksgiving!

Nation's Two Elephant Sanctuaries Collaborate to Provide Home for Ned, A Captive-Born Male Elephant
Saturday, November 8, 21-year-old Ned was confiscated by the USDA for failure to comply with the Animal Welfare Act. Placed by USDA authority with The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, Ned arrived in Tennessee in a severely emaciated condition. The Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) has offered to build Ned a permanent home in their new bull elephant habitat under construction at their 2,300 acre sanctuary in San Andreas, CA. 

An Elephant-Size Job
Performing vasectomies on elephants is difficult because the testes of the elephant are intra-abdominal.

Former Owner Says Ned the Elephant Just a Picky Eater
Ned, the elephant that federal officials say was starved, is really just a picky eater, his former owner said. But U.S. Agriculture Department officials don't believe Kollmann, sometimes known as Lance Ramos, was doing enough. Ned's new caregivers at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee say it's apparent he wasn't given the minerals and nutrition he needs.

Zoo employees, elephants mourn the loss of popular pachyderm
HOUSTON -- Mac, the Houston Zoo’s 2-year-old Asian elephant calf died Sunday night following a brief struggle with the elephant herpesvirus.

Emaciated Elephant Taken From Florida Owner
He weighs a ton less than he should weigh. His cheeks are gaunt. His shoulder blades, sternum, hips and spine protrude from his leathery 9-foot-6 frame. But 21-year-old Ned, a captive-born Asian elephant from Tampa, wobbled slowly out of a trailer Sunday into a new phase of his life.

USDA Removes Malnourished Elephant from Balm (Florida) Owner
U.S. Department of Agriculture officials removed the 21-year-old Asian elephant from his Balm home Saturday after they found him malnourished in the care of his owner, circus trainer Lance Ramos.

Federal Officials Seize Underweight Elephant In Balm
A 21-year-old Asian male elephant is adapting today to a temporary home in Tennessee after federal authorities confiscated him over the weekend from a Balm-based circus.

Ned Has Arrived Safely at the Sanctuary
Ned arrived safely about 12:30 p.m. Nov. 9. He is now enjoying Sanctuary life - don't miss the diary updates!

WSMV Channel 4 Nashville will cover Ned’s arrival at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee today at 5pm CT


See Ned’s Arrival Live!
ETA 12:30pmCT at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

At 8:30am Central Time, Ned and his entourage crossed into the state of Tennessee. His time of arrival at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is estimated to be at 12:30pm Central Time.

Ned’s arrival will be carried live via the Sanctuary’s “ele-cam” which can be found at


Lost and Found: Winkie the elephant: Despite a tragic past, this former Henry Vilas Zoo resident appears to have found peace
Winkie — an Asian elephant that was born in Burma and spent a turbulent three decades in Madison at the Henry Vilas Zoo — now resides at the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)Confiscates Emaciated Elephant: Now in route to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee
On Saturday, November 8, Ned was confiscated from Ramos by the USDA for failure to comply with the Animal Welfare Act and was placed by USDA authority with The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Two veteran elephant handlers were secured by the agency to ensure that Ned was safely loaded into the transport trailer supplied by The Elephant Sanctuary. Scott Blais, Sanctuary co-founder, will accompany Ned on the 775 mile journey. They are scheduled to arrive at The Elephant Sanctuary midday Sunday, November 9th.

A Year Later, Maggie's in 'Elephant Heaven'
A year into her new life roaming a California sanctuary with other elephants, Alaska's favorite expat shows every sign of enjoying it. She trumpets, knocks down trees and calls for her companions when they wander too far, say her new keepers.

Disease Claims Baby Elephant
CALGARY -- Staff at the Calgary Zoo are mourning the loss of Malti, a female elephant calf who lost her battle against a rare but deadly disease yesterday.

Circus Elephant Abuse Trial Delayed
"It's highly disappointing that the case has been postponed. Hopefully, we'll be even better prepared" when the case comes to trial, possibly at the beginning of next year, said Tracy Silverman, general counsel for the Animal Welfare Institute.

Lawsuit Alleges Elephant Abuse
Benjamin, a 4-year-old Asian Ringling Bros. elephant, was swimming in a pond in 1999 when his trainer instructed him to get out of the water. When he disobeyed, the trainer came at him with a bull hook — a club with a sharp metal point at the end — and the young elephant had a heart attack and died. A U.S. Department of Agriculture investigator determined the use of the bull hook “precipitated in the physical harm and ultimate death” of Benjamin, said Tracy Silverman, general counsel for the Animal Welfare Institute. The institute is one of four nonprofit national animal rights groups that in 2000 sued Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, whose former winter quarters were in Sarasota.

Ronnie & Debbie Shirt Now Available!
These two Diva best friends are featured on this wonderful t-shirt.

Pachyderm Paradise is in Tennessee
The Elephant Sanctuary is now a one-of-a-kind operation. A mixed-animal sanctuary in California has about 10 elephants. A couple of small refuges keep an elephant or two. But only Tennessee has so much space dedicated strictly to the world's largest land mammal.

Remembering Les Schobert,Elephant Advocate
After 30 years, Les left the zoo industry due to deep concerns over the poor welfare of captive wildlife. In 2004 he became a consultant for In Defense of Animals, advocating for large elephant preserves in place of the small zoo exhibits where the pachyderms suffer and die prematurely. Les was quoted widely in media stories, and his op eds appeared in major news- papers such as the Washington Post.

Lily Tomlin Wants Dallas Elephant Relocated
Comedian and animal rights advocate Lily Tomlin said Jenny the elephant has worked 22 years for the Dallas Zoo and it's time for the aging pachyderm to retire to a spacious Tennessee refuge.

Elephants Find Paradise in Tennessee
“In recognition of the commitment, perseverance, and milestones achieved by The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, the State of Tennessee, Lewis County and the City of Hohenwald have declared October 2008 as Elephant Awareness Month.” Advocacy for Animals salutes the work of this exceptional institution.

Kenya's Elephants Send Text Messages
Kenyan officials are placing collars containing SIM cards around elephants. When the elephants approach crop fields, text messages are sent to rangers

The Fall of Ravana (Sri Lanka)
Among the many elephant deaths we hear of, this was particularly shocking. Not only because it was a majestic tusker being monitored through a satellite collar, but also because it was killed inside a national park.

Rescued elephants run amok, kill saviour in Sri Lanka
An elephant that had fallen into a jungle well with her calf and was rescued by villagers in Anuradhapura district of Sri Lanka ran amok and killed one of the saviours in the presence of helpless police and wildlife authorities.

October is Elephant Awareness Month!
In recognition of the commitment, perseverance, and milestones achieved by The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, the State of Tennessee, Lewis County and the City of Hohenwald have declared October 2008 as Elephant Awareness Month.

B&G Foods Sends Grandma’s Molasses To Help The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee
B&G Foods of Parsippany, New Jersey (known for their Cream of Wheat cereal, Ortega Mexican Foods and Grandma’s Molasses) is a proud corporate sponsor of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, supplying molasses to the seventeen resident elephants.

Dead Utah elephant suffered tragic life - and she wasn't alone
She was born 27 years ago in the wilds of Africa. By the time she was a year old, she had been ripped from her family. Penned, chained and shipped to a noisy new world, her California keepers allowed her to roam only a few paces this way and a few paces that. She was bullied and dominated. She lost a baby. She was poked, prodded, cut and left in pain.

4th Annual Tennessee Week for the Animals - September 20-28, 2008
An exciting statewide event to celebrate and build awareness about our planet's precious animals. Animal organizations, educational institutions, decision makers and caring citizens throughout the state of Tennessee will come together September 20-28, 2008 to make this statewide celebration of animals one that will benefit the animals and bring us all together on the animal's behalf. The week will include major events throughout the state which will include Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville along with smaller towns and municipalities. Tennessee is the 4th state in the union to dedicate a week to the animals. Let us all come together throughout the great state of Tennessee for the animals during this very special week.

Urban Jungle: the Lives of Thai Mahouts and Their Elephants


Jenny Decision is Final
The Dallas Zoo announced today that Jenny the elephant isn’t going anywhere.

What to Do With Traumatized Elephant Stirs Up Dallas
“Jenny is a special-needs elephant,” said Margaret Morin, a Dallas nurse who leads Concerned Citizens for Jenny. “She’s unique; she’s afflicted with crippling depression. The elephant sanctuary is the right choice.”

How a Few Elephants Turned the Zoo Industry Upside Down
M. stood for Moja. She was born at the San Diego Zoo in May of 1982. Her mother was Wankie, a 23 year old who had spent most of her life in Southern California. It was her first calf, and the birth was considered a triumph. For Moja was a rarity, one of the few African elephants to have been bred successfully in captivity. The zoological profession could not have been more pleased, and it touted the news far and wide. But for Wankie and her calf, the celebration was to be short-lived - as the latter was shipped in October of the following year to the city zoo in Tacoma, Washington. If some readers are thinking that this does not sound like much time for a mother and daughter to spend together, they would be most correct in doing so. Elephants, especially, are affected by such an abrupt separation.

Wild Animals in Captivity
Rob Laidlaw, author of Wild Animals in Captivity, is interviewd by School Library Journal, the world's largest reviewer of books, multimedia, and technology for children and teens.

What some of the best captive facilities have is common is that they put the needs of the animals as their highest priority. The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee stands out in my mind as one facility that clearly puts the needs of the animals first.


Do Elephants Suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Watch ABC's 20/20 July 25, 10pm EST, 9pm CST.
Barring breaking news, 20/20 will air a program about PTSD in elephants on Friday night.

Elizabeth Vargas travels to the Mala Mala preserve in Kruger National Park in South Africa to see elephants thriving in the wild, and then to The Elephant Sanctuary, a 2,700 acre private preserve in rural Tennessee where some elephants believed to be suffering from PTSD are treated. "To diagnose an elephant with PTSD is novel, but that's because we have denied elephants the capacity of having a mind, having a psyche, having emotions. But basically the neurobiology, all the neuroscience says yes, its' there, the potential is there and the behavior confirms it," says elephant researcher Gay Bradshaw.

Sanctuary Slideshow.


Oakland Elephants are Pampered
Elephant caretakers are paying attention to how these beasts would function in the wild, and are supporting more instinctual behaviors related to roaming, feeding, and socialization.

China's Ivory Trade Right Worries India
"Allowing new ivory to be imported into China will stimulate demand and create loopholes for illegal ivory to be laundered into the legal market," International Fund for Animal Welfare programme director Peter Pueschel said, adding that even though the sale is monitored by CITES, there is no denying that it can lead to more poaching of African as well as Asian elephants.

Tarra's Art will no longer be sold...
With the recent exploitation of young elephants in Asia for high dollar paintings, and the news that baby elephants are being removed from the Lek Chailart's sanctuary — The Elephant Nature Park in Thailand — in order to be trained to paint, we feel it is important that we do not confuse the issue by selling Tarra's art on our site. Although Tarra has not painted in more than a decade, reproductions of her artwork have been on sale in our gift shop. The Elephant Sanctuary will no longer be selling Tarra’s art, Tarra’s Art Cards, or the video/dvd of Tarra painting. We encourage a close examination of the reality of the lives of those elephants who are enslaved to turn a profit by painting.

Now available: Shirley's Gift Pack!
In honor of Shirley’s Ninth Anniversary, the Sanctuary is proud to offer a limited edition Anniversary Gift Pack featuring three brand new items that will not be sold separately!

This gift pack includes Shirley's Anniversary DVD, Women’s t-shirt, Shirley color photo signed by Carol and Scott, and a Sanctuary Decal


As featured on Channel 2 News: Protestors favor Hohenwald sanctuary for Jenny.
A custody battle is brewing over a 22-year-old African elephant named Jenny. Protestors favor Hohenwald sanctuary for 22-year-old elephant

Wild Elephants Run Amok in Central Highlands
A herd of about 10 rampaging wild elephants have destroyed a newly-planted rubber tree plantation and threatened the lives of local people in Central Highland’s Gia Lai Province.

Dallas Zoo's Lone Elephant to move to Mexican Wildlife Park
Jenny, the 31-year-old African elephant, will move to the Africam Safari Park, a 617-acre forested wildlife park located 80-miles southeast of Mexico City, zoo officials said today.

We, as a society, need to take stand against animal abuse
Weeks back, I wrote a column about the circus — and I received more comments on it than anything I have ever written.

E-mails poured in locally, and from all over the country, and I realized how ready we are as a society to move forward in our treatment of animals — to consider, especially, the cadre of animals commonly used in circuses that are exotic, outside the domestic sphere and therefore intrinsically unsuited for a life of travel and submission, as they learn tricks that betray their instincts, all for human amusement.


Kindness, Freedom and Friendship Shine in New Opera
Having spent more than 20 years in captivity, Sydney is about to be released from the zoo into a sanctuary. But after all this time, the elephant no longer knows what freedom is. All she knows is that she has found safety and friendship with the kind-hearted zookeeper.

Inspired by a true story, Sanctuary Song is the result of a dynamic collaboration between two award-winning Toronto companies, who come together to tell a story from the point of view of a most unusual protagonist. An unforgettable opera for all ages.


Carol Buckley at Luminato, Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity June 7 and 8
On June 7 and 8 Carol Buckley will participate in the opening weekend of Luminato, Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity. Carol will attend a performance of the opera Sanctuary Song which is based on the tale of two elephants reunited after many years apart – a new chamber opera by Toronto artists Marjorie Chan and Abigail Richardson which will have its world premiere at Luminato. The Festival will also partner with Canada’s National Film Board to screen The Urban Elephant to be followed by a panel discussion with Carol Buckley (Sunday June 8) and the creators of the opera.

Times Changing at the Circus
The circus is a tarnished entity, mostly because it hasn’t changed with the times. Cruelty to animals is unacceptable in a forward-thinking society, and circuses are hotbeds of animal abuse.

Groups Try to Stop Circus from Chaining Elephants
In requesting the injunction, the animal welfare groups cited statements from elephant experts asserting that prolonged chaining is harmful in ways that violate the Endangered Species Act. They also cited testimony from former circus employees contending that the elephants were tightly chained by one front and one hind leg for long periods in a manner that prevented them from turning in place.

"The public should be outraged at the amount of time these animals are forced to be shackled and confined," said Lisa Weisberg, senior vice president of government affairs for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


Reality of the Painting Elephants in Thailand
(Originally posted May 15, 2008)

As a result of a recent video posted on YouTube of an elephant painting a "self portrait," literally millions of people have become interested in the idea of having a painting done by an elephant, not realizing the cruel training methods that are used to get the animal to perform this activity.

Here is a statement by Richard Lair regarding the elephant’s self-portrait painting. Richard Lair has intensively studied the Asian elephant for 27 years and is presently Advisor and International Relations Officer at the National Elephant Institute of Thailand, based at the Forest Industry Organization's Thai Elephant Conservation Center, in Lampang province. He is co-founder of the Thai Elephant Orchestra.

"The painting is sort of fake. Yes, the elephant does it but only under the very precise control of a mahout with a firm grip on some part of the elephant’s head (often tusk but could be mouth, base of ear, etc.) The elephant has no idea whatsoever of what it is drawing."


Dulary Anniversary Gift Pack Now Available in Our Girls Gift Shop!
In honor of Dulary’s first Anniversary the Sanctuary is proud to offer a limited edition Anniversary Gift Pack featuring three brand new items that will not be sold separately! This gift pack includes: NEW! Dulary Anniversary DVD (featuring new footage of Dulary and Misty) NEW! Women’s t-shirt (sizes S-XXL) NEW! Dulary color photo signed by Carol and Scott Sanctuary Decal These items are beautifully packaged in a clear box with a Dulary bio inside the cover. Only 140 sets of these very special collections have been created.

Fueling World Ivory Trade Spells New Threat to Africa's Elephant Population


Someone Isn't Enjoying the Ride
Though about 300 elephants still live on the streets of Thai cities, Boon Rot and the more fortunate of her peers have found a way station at trekking camps such as Anantara. These camps are highly popular with tourists, but many are notorious among animal rights groups, which say that they are maltreating the creatures. This was something I didn't learn until after my camp experience, but it left me with a decidedly mixed feeling about the whole thing.

In Memory of Jim Hager
Jim and Jon Hager have been avid supporters of the Sanctuary since our inception. They graciously appeared at every function we have had, selflessly lending their name and celebrity to the cause of the elephants. Jim was a true believer in our mission and made a point to educate everyone he came in contact with about the Sanctuary. His enthusiastic and unwavering support has always been appreciated and will always be remembered.

Just Added to Our Gift Shop!
Looking for a new way to support The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee? Check out our new decorative license plates! With the beautiful image of elephants against a sunset and the Elephant Sanctuary logo, they are sure to attract attention while you are traveling & they look great on the front of your vehicle. Help spread the word about the Sanctuary with this beautiful Sanctuary License Plate!

Parents Weigh Animal Rights Ethics Against Kids' Enjoyment of the Circus
"To see a bear ride a bicycle, it is ridicule. You're really just laughing at that bear," said Mel Levine, a renowned pediatrician at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who has written numerous books about child behavior and the way children learn. "So the question is: What's the message you're giving to kids when you take them to the circus and they laugh at animals? I think to laugh at animals is to devalue them."

Endangered animals are the new blood diamonds as militias and warlords use poaching to fund death.
But the militia's move into ivory poaching signals a terrifying turn in the world's efforts to save vanishing species. The battle is no longer just about the elephant's trumpet never again echoing over the African savanna, or the Bengal tiger's roar being heard only in memory. The threat posed by the contraband wildlife trade is now also about the money it generates—wave upon wave of it—that is being used by very bad people to do very bad things. "Earnings from the ivory trade is sustaining the Janjaweed," says Michael Wamithi, former head of the Kenya Wildlife Service and now director of the elephant program for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. "It's untraceable money," much like the "blood diamonds" that bankrolled brutal wars in Sierra Leone. On March 5, the House Committee on Natural Resources will hold a hearing on the new twist in illegal wildlife trade.

Stray Animals in Lewis County
In response to great interest in the Spay/Neuter Lewis County article in our most recent Trunklines we wanted to provide a bit more detail. The Sanctuary is currently working with the city, on an advisory level only, to help the county set up a task force to deal with the problem of stray dogs. We feel that a shelter in Lewis County is a realistic goal for the near future and we are actively involved in the effort. This does not include providing funds; it does include presenting information at county meetings and agreeing to be on the task force to provide input for solutions. Spay-neuter is one of the many solutions. No funds raise specifically to assist our elephants are used for stray dogs and cats. The only funds used for the purpose of humane care for stray dogs and cats adopted by the Sanctuary are provided by donors who specifically donate for that purpose.

Jumbos under siege in southern India
New Delhi: Environmentalists and wildlife activists have pressed the panic button in the elephant corridor connecting Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu where the Asian tusker is under siege. According to an estimate by the NGO Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), more than 20 elephants have died between January 2007 and January 2008 in southern India as a result of man-animal conflict.

A Whole Lotta Love - Elephants find sanctuary, thanks to a yogini's efforts
Article about Carol and the Sanctuary, published in Yoga Journal.

South Africa to Allow Elephant Killing
By Craig Timberg Washington Post Foreign Service JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 25-- South African officials announced Monday that the nation's 14-year-old moratorium on culling elephants will be lifted despite long-running opposition from wildlife activists who call the practice unnecessary and barbaric.

Researcher Katy Payne on WPLN this Sunday February 24
Speaking of Faith- Sun, 11am (1430 WPLN-AM) "Whale Songs and Elephant Loves" Trained as a musician, acoustic biologist Katy Payne was first to discover that humpback whales compose ever-changing song to communicate, and first to understand that elephants communicate with one another across long distances by infrasound.

Unruly elephants driven out by trained ones (India)
The kunki (trained) elephants brought from the West Midnapore division have finally driven out the jumbo herd that had been rampaging the Bankura district for the past one month.

Why elephants are not so long in the tusk
Elephants are evolving smaller tusks due to pressure from hunting and poaching for ivory, according to conservation experts.

Zimbabwe's elephants fair game to feed sports fans
Zimbabwe plans to kill hundreds of elephants and turn them into biltong, a local dried meat snack usually enjoyed with a beer in front of a game of soccer or rugby...

Taunted Elephant Killed After Trashing Cars
Tusker was the resident Charara elephant ... he was a legend and a great favorite of tourists and locals alike.

Carol Buckley to Speak at This Weekend's Education Gallery Fundraiser
If you live in the area (or like to travel!), plan to attend a very special "Paving The Way" 2-day Fundraiser and Silent Auction on Oct. 17 & 18 in Franklin, TN. Carol Buckley will be appearing Friday night to speak. For details, visit the event site and keep checking back as auction items are still being added!

2008 Combined Federal Campaign - CFC Number is 10470
The Sanctuary would like to take this opportunity to again thank all our members who support us through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). Your automatic payroll deductions have gone a long way in helping us fulfill our mission and in contributing to the daily care of each and every one of our Girls. If you are one of our valued CFC donors, we hope you will choose to renew your pledge during the fall giving campaigns. (Please note our code is #10470.) If you are a federal government employee and would like to find out more about donating to the Sanctuary, visit, or contact us at 931-796-6500 and we will help put you in touch.

Use GoodSearch.Com to raise money for The Elephant Sanctuary every time you search! is a new search engine that donates half its revenue to the charities its users designate. You use it just as you would any search engine, and it's powered by Yahoo!, so you get great results. Just go to and be sure to enter The Elephant Sanctuary as the charity you want to support. Just 500 of us searching four times a day will raise about $7300 in a year without anyone spending a dime!