The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee works to increase understanding of and support for conservation efforts to protect elephants in the wild, and promote practices to improve the wellbeing of captive elephants around the globe. The Sanctuary collaborates with and supports international organizations on four continents: Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America. Their programs focus on elephant-human conflict, anti-poaching, habitat preservation, field work to add to the knowledge of elephants, rescue and rehabilitation, improved management and care in captivity, and providing veterinary care.

2018 Collaborations

A generous bequest from Mark Hopkins Schell has allowed The Sanctuary to expand international giving in 2018 in support of elephant welfare and conservation efforts around the world. The Sanctuary’s Board reviewed global projects and proposals and has awarded gifts to the following organizations: 

ElephantVoices (Africa)

For the expansion of a unique, user-friendly, fully searchable elephant gestures and calls database to document the complex and diverse communication and behavior of African elephants for scientists and others to study, compare and share.

Elephant Haven (Europe)

To support the building of a barn and perimeter fence for the retirement of the sanctuary’s first elephant in 2018.

Wildlife SOS (India)

For Mahout Training Project to better serve the 3,000 captive elephants in the care of mahouts, involving both classroom and field experience in positive reinforcement training, foot care and veterinary needs.

Stellenbosch University (Africa)

In support of expanded TB research in wild elephants.

Caitlin O’Connell/Utopia Scientific/African Elephant Society (Africa)

For continued research of the long-term dynamic of wild African elephant societies and the implications for conservation.

Center of Excellence in Elephant and Wildlife Research (Thailand)

To offer mobile veterinary services for the healthcare and treatment of sick and injured elephants in an expanded remote area, currently without veterinary care.

Working Dogs 4 Conservation (Africa and Asia)

To train rescue dogs in global conservation projects including the detection of ivory poaching and trafficking.

Global Sanctuary for Elephants (Brazil)

To help secure land in preparation for the retirement of Asian elephants in South America and support the development of the African Elephant Care Center.

2016 - 2017 Collaborations

Amboseli Trust for Elephants—Kenya

Elephant Haven—Europe/France

There are 141 elephants in circuses and 540 elephants living in zoos in Europe. Many countries in Europe are beginning to ban wild animals from circuses.

Elephant Voices—South Africa

Elephants Without Borders—Botswana

Global Sanctuary for Elephants—Brazil

Elephants have been banned from performing in 5 South American countries; many are in dire need of shelter and care.

TB Research Group Stellenbosch University, Student Scholarships—South Africa

Michelle Miller, DVM, NRF, Research Chair

Thailand Elephant Care Center, Veterinary Student Program—Thailand

Utopia Scientific, Caitlin O’Connell—Mushara

Wildlife SOS India, Captive Elephants Welfare Project—India

2014 - 2015 Collaborations

Duke University’s Humans & Autonomy Laboratory—Africa, Bendje, Gabon

In August 2015 The Elephant Sanctuary collaborated with graduate students from Duke University’s Humans & Autonomy Laboratory in support of their work to provide a low cost, easy-to-use drone to aid researchers and protectors of forested elephants in the Wonga Wongue National Park in Bendje, Gabon.

Elephant Voices—Nairobi, Kenya

Amboseli Trust for Elephants works to stop the ivory trade and end the poaching of elephants.

Thailand Elephant Conservation Center—Thailand

Thailand Elephant Conservation Center provides care for elephants retired from logging in Thailand. In August 2014, The Elephant Sanctuary hosted Dr. Khayjohnpat Boonprasert from Thailand Elephant Conservation Center for two weeks in Hohenwald, TN to collaborate on issues of elephant health, welfare, and veterinary care.

Utopia Scientific, Caitlin O’Connell—Mushara

In June 2015 The Elephant Sanctuary hosted Dr. Caitlin O’Connell for public gatherings in Nashville and in Hohenwald to hear about her research work in Africa. Her public talks focused on the social structure of African male elephants – their friendships, power struggles, and play.

Chinese Zoo Association—China

In June 2015 The Elephant Sanctuary partnered with the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and Animals Asia Foundation (AAF) to provide consultation on improving elephant well-being in Chinese zoos. These zoos included Xian Zoo, Beijing Zoo, and the Badaling Safari Park. At the invitation of AAF, Sanctuary Director of Elephant Programs, Margaret Whittaker, traveled with Brian Busta, PAWS Sanctuary Manager, to speak to more than 70 curators and senior animal managers in a workshop organized by the Chinese Zoo Association (CAZG). They introduced workshops on Protected Contact and tools and methods for elephant foot care with The Elephant Sanctuary’s support. There were approximately 150 attendees.

India, Mumbai

The Elephant Sanctuary provided foot care tools in July 2014 for Sunder, a 14-year-old temple elephant moved to a rehabilitation center after years of chaining and abuse. Margaret Whittaker, Active Environments and Director of Elephant Care at The Elephant Sanctuary was invited to India to introduce Sunder’s care staff to Protected Contact and foot care training. The Sanctuary provided tools for the workshop and on-going foot care.

Global Sanctuary for Elephants—Brazil

The Elephant Sanctuary partnered with Global Sanctuary for Elephants to provide experienced staff, care and treatments to Ramba. This effort also supports Global Sanctuary for Elephants’ work in South America to locate land and resources for Ramba’s long-term care.

Current Residents

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