Our Facilities

Our land expansion is complete.
The elephants now have unrestricted access to the entire 2,700 acres of natural-habitat
which has been doubled-fenced for their privacy and protection. The new Asian habitat is 2200 acres, the African habitat is 300 acres, and the Quarantine facility is 200 acres.

Sanctuary Expansion

International Paper Land
International Paper Land
1800 acres of wooded land
New Asian Barn New Asian Barn
Construction completed Sept. 2005
Lake property
Lake Land
700 acres w/25-acre lake

PROJECT COST — $10,730,000
222 acres of pasture and woods w/residence — acquisition and construction completed $210,000
Small quarantine barn — construction completed $80,000
Asian elephant barn and office — construction completed $500,000
Quarantine facility fencing — construction completed $200,000
1840 acres wooded land — acquisition completed $1,840,000
700 acres with 25-acre lake — acquisition completed $1,100,000
Fencing & security — construction completed $2,000,000
African Elephant barn & facilities — acquisition and construction completed $1,800,000
New Asian Barn— construction completed $3,000,000

Since the arrival of our first Asian elephant in 1995, The Elephant Sanctuary has led the world in the quest for providing a true natural habitat refuge for sick and needy captive elephants. Since our inception we have had many successes.

We appreciate the opportunity to introduce you to The Elephant Sanctuary and enlist your support for our on-going expansion.

The Sanctuary opened its doors to Asian elephants in the Spring of 1995. The facilities consisted of one small barn and 40 fenced acres. Over the next five years the Sanctuary’s expansion included a new 9000-square-foot elephant house and 200 acres of fenced habitat. During this time seven needy elephants found permanent refuge at the Sanctuary.

In January of 2004 the Sanctuary opened a 300-acre African elephant facility and welcomed our first three African elephants . The remaining land, all 2440 acres, will become the heart and soul of our new expanded Asian elephant habitat. In honor of its new usage, this land has been dubbed Asian Elephant Country. The expanded Asian habitat will accommodate our rapidly growing herd of Asian elephants which as of February 2006 numbered 16 females, ages 32 through 60.

In September 2005 we completed construction of our expanded Asian elephant facility which includes a 17,000 square foot state-of-the-art elephant house and 2200 acres of habitat with a 25-acre spring-fed lake. In January 2006, the resident herd migrated to their new home, making possible the rescue of the Hawthorn elephants.
The completion of the 20 mile fencing project to enclose the entire 2700 acres coincided with the completion of the new Asian elephant house. This new elephant house and secured habitat increases our holding capacity and gives all resident Asian elephants access to more than 2400 acres.
If you would like to contribute towards our expansion project, select one or more of the links below:

New Asian Elephant House
Construction completed Sept. 2005
Our Wish List Page
needed items have been listed to help us with our programs.

About the Sanctuary
The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, founded in 1995, is the nation's largest natural habitat refuge specifically developed to provide a haven for old, sick or needy elephants retired from circuses and zoos. Since inception the Sanctuary has rescued numerous Asian and African elephants living in deprived environments throughout North America. The Elephant Sanctuary encompasses 2700 acres of old-growth forest and pasture, springs, ponds, streams and a 25-acre lake on the outskirts of Hohenwald, Tennessee—85 miles Southwest of Nashville. 

Our primary objective is to provide a spacious and rich natural environment in which our elephants can fully exercise their sensitive, intense, socially gregarious, complex and exceedingly intelligent natures.

The Elephant Sanctuary also focuses on research and education. We encourage non-invasive research intended to contribute to the conservation of this endangered species in the wild. In July 2001, Katy Payne and a team of scientists collected data on our elephants' auditory signals and footfalls to further her groundbreaking work on elephant communication. Education about elephants and the crisis they face is a daily event at The Elephant Sanctuary.

Returning captive elephants to the wild is not an option. Accordingly, it is our responsibility to provide them a life of peace and relative freedom until they die. When we do that and provide a setting that permits quality scientific research that contributes to the survival of their counterparts in the wild, The Elephant Sanctuary will truly accomplish its mission.

African Elephant Habitat Expansion

New African  Barn
New African Elephant Barn


12/13/03: Construction Update

The hydronic floor heat has been installed, the concrete floors poured, the keeper area is framed and the plumbing and electric is nearly finished. The translucent walls are mesmerizing.  Daylight as well as the moon’s illumination flows into the elephant house, creating a warm and comforting effect, something the elephants will definitely benefit from.
View Slide Show

Tange, Zula and Flora are ready and waiting to begin their new life at the Sanctuary. Luckily for us they possess mega amounts of patience. I cannot say the same for the Sanctuary staff and others who are anticipating this monumental move.  The Sanctuary staff has worked diligently to insure that the construction project move forward at a reasonable pace but weather conditions and unforeseen delays are to be expected.  Due to these delays it is unreasonable to expect that the elephant will arrive before the end of the year, as we had hoped. We are now shooting for a January 1 completion date with elephants arriving soon after.

11/12/03: Construction Update

Construction is behind schedule but that is to be expected with such a unique building project. Volunteers are coming in on weekends to paint the pipe and inside walls while the contractor works during the week to complete the project.

African Barn Corral area

9/15/03: Construction Update

Due to an exceptionally wet Spring and Summer, construction of the African elephant barn was delayed by several weeks. Our target completion date is still this Fall but more likely November instead of September as we had hoped.

Once the torrential rains subsided and the site work was complete, the work crews wasted no time pouring the footers and erecting this environmentally conscious—elephant friendly barn, we call the Ele Eco-Barn.

Marking out the building
Laying out the site

Interior walls going up
Inside walls going up
Framing almost complete
Framing going up
Architect rendering
As it will look..
A perfect combination of function and ingenuity

Architect Cary Dunn spent hours designing the perfect combination of function and ingenuity. This building is designed to conserve precious natural resources while providing a functional and ele-friendly environment. Two huge plastic cisterns collect and store rain water for the facility's endless water needs while the polycarbonate wall panels, which allow natural sun light in, make the elephants feel like they are outside year round.

The interior concrete walls are under construction and the concrete slab around the interior of the building is poured and is curing. Many of the steel corral post have been set and the building's steel frame has been erected.

Update 9/19/03: The metal ceiling and roof are almost complete and framing has begun for the wall panels. The overhead doors are being installed which will make way for the plumbers and electricians.

Finishing work
Finishing work
Finishing work
Smoothing concrete
Framing complete
Framing complete
Ceiling almost complete
Barn ceiling nears completion
Roof almost finished
and the roof goes on
Roof is on
Roof is on
Another view of completed roof
Another view of barn with finished roof
The five-ton hoist and crane system is installed. This piece of equipment serves ONE single purpose; to lift an elephant that is down and cannot get to her feet. The hoist is attached to a crane which rides in a track attached to the ceiling of the barn. This track runs the entire length of the barn so that every inch of the barn is accessible. Although this is one tool that no elephant barn should be without, it became the target of cost trimming.

A single item with a price tag of $33,500, that may, if we are lucky, never be used, was an easy target for dismissal. After strenuous resistance from Scott and Carol, the Sanctuary co-founders, everyone involved understood why the hoist system was one line item that would not be trimmed.

The hoist is installed Close-up of hook on hoist
The hoist and hook have been installed
Pouring concrete Outside door
Outside door Outside door installed
The corral pipes leading from the barn have been set and the concrete poured. The overhead electric doors are hung and the motors are being installed.
walls go up Inside of barn
The polycarbonate wall panels are being installed. This wall system takes more time to erect than conventional wall systems but the benefits outweigh the added cost. This wall system provides the benefit of allowing natural light inside the barn as well as the health benefit of UV light.