The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

Q Habitat


Overview & History of Elecams

What is the Elecam?
The Elecam features live streaming video from 14 cameras mounted throughout the 3 elephant habitats at our 2,700-acre refuge. The African, Asian and Q habitats each have an Elecam webpage that broadcasts video from the habitat.

This system not only allows Internet users to view the elephants, but enables the caregivers to locate and monitor them more closely as well. As part of our educational outreach, it is also used as a distance learning tool to host video conferences with students across the globe.

When the elephants are lying down:
We all enjoy observing the elephants in a natural environment while they play, swim, browse and graze. But don’t be alarmed if you see one lying down. Our residents love to nap, so they’re often on the ground catching up on their “beauty sleep.” Remember, caregivers are watching these Elecams too, and would be the first to respond if they felt a situation you are watching needed special attention or concern.

History of the Elecam:
The Elecam first launched on our website in 1999 with one camera — by 2004 we had added five more, thanks to sponsors BellSouth, Union Planters Bank and, who underwrote the costs. This non-invasive technology offers people worldwide the chance to view natural elephant behavior — outside the confines of a zoo or circus — for the very first time.

Over the years, supporters have witnessed everything from history-making events to the daily playful activities of the elephants. The Elecam allowed residents in Vancouver who advocated for Tina’s retirement to watch her arrive safely at the Sanctuary and take her first steps to freedom. After outfitting the newly built African barn with cameras, supporters also watched Tange, Zula and Flora begin their new lives in Tennessee. Other arrival highlights captured on the Elecams include the day Lota and Misty stepped off the transport trailer, and when the Divas arrived, two by two, in the “Caravan to Freedom.”

The everyday moments also provide us with treasured memories of the elephants, such as swims in the ponds and their authentic interactions with each other — and in the case of Tarra, an intriguing friendship with a stray dog named Bella.

Over time, the Elecam equipment began to deteriorate. In the African habitat, this was due in part to Flora, who managed to locate and dig up the video cables. Another issue arose when the Asian habitat expanded by thousands of additional acres, making it infeasible to lay cables throughout such a large area. In order to reconnect all four corners of the habitat, we needed to develop a new communications infrastructure utilizing a network of digital towers.

Thanks to the George Conner Trust, we were provided with the necessary resources to expand the Elecam system to what it is today. There are 14 video cameras mounted on 11 towers and 3 barns throughout the Sanctuary’s 3 elephant habitats. In the interest of sustainability (and because running a power grid in the vast habitat wasn’t feasible), 11 of the cameras are solar powered.

We are thrilled to take the Sanctuary to a whole new level of care and education in a digital age — and to offer you this one-of-a-kind experience to view the elephants in a way you may never have before. Most importantly, we are able to accomplish each of these tasks without intruding on them as they go about their daily lives grazing, napping, browsing, swimming, socializing and just being elephants.

Here are some special moments captured on our previous Elecam:

The Founding Herd

Shirley watches over Jenny

Memorial for Tina

Sissy placed her Tire on Tina's grave

Tarra and Bella

Tange and Flora

Our first glimpse of Lota on her arrival