An Elephant Sanctuary is Not a Ranch

April 5, 2007
Response to AZA Online Article dated 2/07

The Elephant Sanctuary would like to respond to a recent statement posted on the American Zoological Association website.

In an online Q&A concerning elephant conservation the AZA poses the question "Are private elephant ranches (also known as sanctuaries) good places for elephants?"

The term ranch has been misused in this analogy, so we would like to explain why an elephant sanctuary is not a ranch. A sanctuary and a ranch look alike on the outside, like two library books sitting side by side on a library shelf. Both have large spaces on which animals live. But if you open the books, the stories on their pages could not be more different.

Ranches are commercial enterprises and ranch animals are commodities—to be used or consumed as their owner decides. That is why ranch animals are branded and bred, ridden or sheared, offered for sale or trade, and ultimately skinned and slaughtered.

Sanctuaries exist to offer their animal residents protection and refuge from just that fate. Sanctuaries focus on the animals' own needs--what they most need to lead a decent and dignified life. Sanctuaries provide security, compassion and freedom to their residents from the day they arrive until the day of their natural death. Although the zoo industry might confuse a ranch with a sanctuary, no animal would.

 Original Article