The Elephant Sanctuary In Tennessee Announces Departure of Co-Founder

August 17, 2011

Brian Fulton
(615) 780-3327

HOHENWALD, Tenn. – August 17, 2011 – The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and its co-founder Scott Blais announced today that Blais is leaving the employment of The Sanctuary. Blais will remain for a time as a consultant to the organization he helped to found in 1995.

Sanctuary CEO Rob Atkinson and Blais said they had decided on a "mutual, friendly parting."

Blais said that Atkinson "has an incredibly well-defined vision going forward, and I will do my very best to assure a seamless transition through serving as a consultant to The Sanctuary. It is my view that The Sanctuary needs new blood to help carry forward Rob's vision, and my hope is for The Sanctuary's great success now and into the future."

As Vice President of Operations, Blais has provided oversight of elephant husbandry, veterinary care and facilities management for The Sanctuary. Already in the process of organizational restructuring, The Sanctuary is currently hiring directors for these divisions.

"I have always considered it a privilege to work with Scott, from the first time I met him in 2002," Atkinson said. "The Sanctuary has been a beacon of hope to anyone working on the protection of captive elephants, and Scott will always be honored for his fundamental role in co-founding The Sanctuary and keeping it strong and vibrant through the years. We look forward to his continued contributions as a consultant to the organization, and as a valuable professional friend to The Sanctuary."

Blais noted that he is "looking forward to the opportunities that will arise" as he completes his employee relationship with The Sanctuary. "There is literally a world of possibilities," he said, "and I anticipate considering many options that can take advantage of my experience. I look forward to taking on new challenges."

Blais is co-founder of The Sanctuary, which was started in 1995 on 112 acres in Lewis County, Tennessee. Sixteen years later, The Sanctuary includes 2,700 acres, 2 African and 12 Asian elephants, and is supported by more than 75,000 members from around the world.

Atkinson said Blais' leaving The Sanctuary "in no way diminishes the legacy of caring and advocating for captive elephants that he created through his work here. We are going to preserve that legacy and build on it into the future as we expand our educational mission and take on more elephants in need." As always, the care and well being of the elephants remains at the forefront - the 18 dedicated members of Sanctuary's Caregiver and Veterinary team will continue, as they have for years, to make the Girls needs a priority above all else during this transition.

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is the nation's largest habitat for needy, old and/or sick Asian and African elephants, and provides a spacious and rich natural environment in which captive elephants – typically retired from circuses and zoos – can spend their remaining years with minimal intrusion. In addition to the home it provides for its elephants, The Sanctuary's mission includes the advancement of methods of humane management and care of resident elephants, and an international education program to raise awareness of the needs of elephants both in captivity and in the wild.

To that end, The Sanctuary is developing an Education Gallery in downtown Hohenwald, Tenn., and has installed a system of solar powered, wireless cameras throughout the three habitats – providing non-invasive opportunities for observation and education. All 14 of the resident elephants can be viewed through the "Elecams" feature on The Sanctuary's website at 


To read statements from Rob and Scott, click here.