The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee 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.
Elephants are intelligent creatures with complex physical and social needs.
Elephants in Sanctuary deserve nothing less than individualized, whole-elephant care for life.
“Sanctuary” means providing a safe have and natural habitat, dedicated solely to elephant wellbeing.
People can and must make a difference in protecting wild elephants so that the species can survive for generations to come.
Protected contact and positive reinforcement are cornerstones for working humanely and effectively with captive elephants.
Collaboration and sharing of best practices leads to better management, treatment and care for elephants everywhere.
Staff thrive on teamwork, continuous learning, and shared commitment to the wellbeing of the elephants entrusted to The Sanctuary’s care.
Honesty, integrity, and open communication with partners and key stakeholders are foundational to The Sanctuary’s relationship and business practices.
The elephants' habitats are closed to the public.
Since 1995, The Sanctuary has provided refuge for 27 elephants who are retired from zoos and circuses. There are currently 10 elephant residents with room for more. The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee began on 200 acres and has grown to three separate and protected, natural habitats, spanning over more than 2,700 acres.
The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee provides elephants retired from entertainment and exhibition with herd, home, and individualized veterinary and husbandry care for life. Elephants that have lived their lives in captivity have an opportunity at The Sanctuary to live in an expansive habitat that allows for a range of natural behaviors. Many of the elephants suffer long-term health and behavioral issues common to elephants that have spent their lives performing, such as tuberculosis, osteomyelitis, obesity, arthritis, aggression and captivity-associated stress. Because elephants have complex physical and social needs, successful outcomes are measured not only by the elephant’s physical health, but also their social, behavioral and psychological well-being.
As a true sanctuary, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is closed to the public. The best way to see the elephants is by watching Elecams, live streams of the habitat that can be viewed on this site.
Education is a very important part of The Sanctuary’s mission. Through Distance Learning, The Sanctuary has taught thousands of school children across the country a respect for wildlife while learning about the crisis facing Asian and African elephants in captivity and in the wild.
In the wild, elephants are migratory, walking miles each day. They form intricate family structures and grieve for their dead in a more-than-instinctive way. They show humor and express compassion. The reality of their lives in captivity is that many are in chains for 18 hours a day and controlled by fear and intimidation. The Elephant Sanctuary’s mission is to give elephants the freedom they deserve.
The Sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and is accredited by The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, and is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.