2020 Year End Letter from Sanctuary CEO
In 2020, a year like no other, The Sanctuary continued to provide stability and security for elephants thanks to the unwavering generosity of YOU, our supporters around the globe.
Thanks to you, as the world changed around us, one thing remained constant at The Sanctuary —on-going, high-quality care for the elephants in a natural habitat setting among others of their kind. To ensure the safety of our staff and the elephants in our care, we instituted new mask and social distancing protocols in early March. Our highest priorities were the wellbeing of our staff and uninterrupted care for the elephants.
We continue to revel daily in the fact that the elephants have been none the wiser to the many difficulties in this strange and challenging year. In July, Shirley celebrated her 72nd birthday by The Sanctuary’s 25-acre lake with habitat-mates Tarra and Sissy, just as she has throughout her 21 years at The Sanctuary. Flora, Tange, and Sukari spent spring and summer months dusting and scratching on trees, while Nosey explored areas new to her and adapted to being an elephant with the freedom to make choices of her own. In Q Habitat, it was noted that neither the construction of new EleCam towers nor the world’s continued unrest interrupted sunny-day naps in the grass for Minnie, Debbie, Ronnie, and Billie.
When the pandemic made it difficult to source everyday necessities, we were thankful to have a stocked warehouse that would get us through the delays. We even found ourselves in a position to help our community in a time of need. With restaurants closed around the country, global food distribution company Sysco experienced a decrease in demand, and in an effort to reduce food waste, contacted The Sanctuary to offer 28 pallets of un-purchased restaurant-grade produce to feed The Sanctuary's elephants. Our Care Staff distributed produce between barns and shared the unexpected bounty with our local community.
With schools closed and stay-at-home orders in place around the country, our Education Staff found new ways to connect with students and teachers. We saw an increased interest in The Sanctuary’s Distance Learning program and delivered 516 online programs to more than 15,000 students, teachers, and parents in 44 states, 19 countries, and six Canadian provinces.
"Thank you so much for speaking with my class today. They stayed on the call 20 minutes after you left talking about elephants and what they learned. They are in high school – you don’t know how rare that is for them.” - Carrie Nitchoff, Broomfield, CO
When plans for a 25th Anniversary celebration event were disrupted, staff re-organized and hosted The Sanctuary’s first virtual event in celebration of World Elephant Day, with 52,400 engagements across all platforms from supporters around the world and more than 500 of those supporters pledging to take action for elephants.
When the crisis facing elephants became more dire, with shutdowns affecting the livelihood of many elephant Caregivers globally, we were able to continue collaborating with and supporting our 10 international partners working in Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America with focuses on wild elephant research, elephant-human conflict, anti-poaching, rescue and rehabilitation, and management and care in captivity.
Because of YOU, our larger community, The Sanctuary continues to provide stability and security for captive elephants here in Tennessee, prepare for additional elephants, as needed — and support elephants worldwide through our international partnerships. Thank you and Happy New Year!
Janice Zeitlin, CEO
And all of us at The Elephant Sanctuary