Did you know that the largest natural habitat refuge for captive elephants in all of North America is located in Tennessee? Since 1995, The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald has worked to create a safe haven for these majestic creatures, while simultaneously educating the public on the crisis elephants face in the wild.
The non-profit organization is currently home to 11 retired elephants who have sadly endured years of captivity, which led to health and/or behavioral problems. What began as 110 acres has since grown to over 2,700 acres of natural habitat for the elephants to roam and rediscover their natural behaviors that were lost while living with a zoo or circus. The habitat helps improve the elephants' well-being. They even have their own elephant barn!
There are 14 cameras set up around the habitats in order to keep tabs on the elephants. The cameras have become known as EleCams and you can tune in any time of day on the sanctuary's website, www.elephants.com, to watch the wild animals roam around on camera.
Since the needs of elephants are extremely complex, the sanctuary also offers what they call "Distance Learning" (perfect in today's COVID-19 social distancing landscape) to educate teachers, classrooms and more on their needy elephants from a safe distance. The education team will explain how they help retired elephants as a species by allowing them to rediscover the companionship of a herd. They also educate people on the threats elephants face in the wild, such as poaching.
Over the years, 28 Asian elephants as well as African elephants have been rescued and allowed to retire in peace at the animal sanctuary. When Carol Buckley and Scott Blais first founded The Elephant Sanctuary, their first resident was Tarra, an elephant taken from her family in Burma at just six months old and shipped to the United States. She was known for working in circuses and on movie sets and had the ability to paint. Carol Buckley was able to provide her with a better home. The oldest elephant in the sanctuary's care is Shirley, who was born in 1948. Despite having a rough life and being completely alone during her 22 years as the only elephant at the zoo in Monroe, Louisiana, Shirley is still thriving and explores her habitat daily.
Click here to see all of the current residents and learn about where they came from before being rescued.
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