The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

501[c][3] Nonprofit Corporation.

The Elephant Sanctuary is licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency [TWRA]. Their address is P.O. Box 393 Hohenwald, TN 38462 Phone: 931-796-6500 Fax: 931-796-1360 elephant@elephants.com

Our Mission 

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, founded in 1995, is the nation’s largest natural-habitat refuge developed specifically for endangered elephants.  It operates on 2,700 acres in Hohenwald, Tennessee-85 miles soutwest of Nashville.

The Elephant Sanctuary exists for two reasons:

To provide a haven for old, sick, or needy elephants in a setting of green pastures, hardwood forests, spring-fed ponds, and heated barns for cold winter nights.

To provide education about the crisis facing these social, sensitive, passionately intense, playful, complex, exceedingly intelligent and endangered creatures.

As a true Sanctuary, the habitat where the elephants live is not open to the public.

As we witness each elephant becoming more at home and exploring new freedom in Sanctuary, we salute the staff for thier work in fully committing to a Protected-Contact [positive reinforcement] system of training and management that assists the elephants in learning behaviors that allows their own best care.

Thanks to our Members, VIP and Legacy investors, volunteers and supporters, this has all been possible.  We also thank our 285,000 Facebook friends, the 6,500 who follow us on Twitter, the 1,000 recent visitors to our welcome center in downtown Hohenwald and the 825 students in 16 states and two countries who have participated inour Distance Learning so far this year.

Next year, we celebrate 20 years of providing sanctuary to retired captive elephants in North America.  We hope you’re excited about the progress we have made this year.

With TES’s Veterinary Team

The Elephant Sanctuary maintains a comprehensive, holistic program for elephant healthcare.  We asked our Vet-team, Dr. Steven Scott and Dr. Lydia Young, to shed some light on how they approach their exceedingly important contribution to maintaining optimal health of an aging herd.

What are some of the routine observations of Sanctuary elephants?

Decision-making around quality veterinary care requires training, ingenuity, intution, and collaboration.  Because medical data on elephants is somewhat limited, treatment decisions-which might otherwise be straight-forward by their species-can be challenging.  We must consider an elephants’ history, physical examination, and clinical responses. And sometimes, to make the best possible choices to restore and maintain an elephant’s health, we’ll have to research the scientific literature, and / or consult the world’s top elephant experts.  Among those choices are considerations around nutrition, use of habitat, social groupings, enrichment activities, and veterinary assessment and treatment – locally.

The Sanctuary provides care staff with clear standards relating to nutrition, enrichment, and veterinary care, along with robust support for implementation of those guidelines at all times.

Integrative medicine means constantly evaluating every aspect of care for each elephant, including: husbandry practices, appetite, attitude, social interaction, body position and condition, gait and movement, range-of-motion, and overall comfort.  Every day, we systemactically examine each elephant from head to tail: eyes, ears, trunk, mouth, teeth, mucous membranes, tusks and tushes, forelimbs, feet, nails, skin, thorax[chest], abdomen and hindquarters.

What does a healthy elephant look like?

She’ll have bright, clear, interactive eyes.  She’ll display good appetite when offered appropriate foods. Her skin will be free of blemishes or wounds, with pink, moist mucus membranes.  She’ll be at an appropriate weight for her conformation, age, stage-of-life. She may be in constant motion, with flapping ears and tail, and swinging trunk.  She should display an air of general contentment, interest in her general contentment., interest in her surroundings, and rapport with others in her social group.

How does the Sanctuary go about judging what’s healthy for the elephants?

Decision-making around quality veterinary care requires training, ingenuity, intuition, an collaboration. Because medical data on elephants is somewhat limited, treatment decisions-which might otherwise be straight-forward for other species-can be challenging.  We must consider an elephant’s history, physical examination, and clinical responses.  And sometimes, to make the best possible choices to restore and maintain an elephant’s health, we’ll have to research the scientific literature, and / or consult the world’s top elephant experts.  Among those choices are considerations around nutrition, use of habitat, social groupings, enrichment activities, and veterinary assessment and treatment locally.

The Sanctuary provides care staff with clear standards relating to nutrition, enrichment, and veterinary care, along with robust support for implementation of those guidelines at all times.

Misty

Captured in India when she was one [1] year old, Misty spent 40 years in the entertainment and circus industry, either in a barn or traveling on the road.

After an escape in 1983 that killed a park zoologist as he tried to recapture her, Misty gained a reputation as a hard-to-handle, dangerous elephant.

In 2004, the USDA ordered the Hawthorn Corporation – a company that trained and rented elephants to circuses-to retire Misty to Sanctuary.

After undergoing treatment for Tuberculosis in quarantine, Misty joined teh larger Sanctuary herd and habitat in 2006.

Like many captive elephants who left the wild as calves to spend their lives on exhibit or performing.  Misty had little to no experience with freedom of choice or navigating large tracts of land…until Sanctuary.

Since her arrival, care staff have worked to build her trust, and to encourage her exploration of the larger natural areas in Sanctuary available to her.

 

 


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