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There's Elephants in Tennessee?
Find out what happened to the circus and zoo elephants you knew as a child.

By: John Shepler

Have you ever wondered where the elephants go? As a child you saw perhaps dozens of elephants in zoos and circuses. But where are they now? What becomes of elephants when they get too old or sick to perform or greet the public? Or maybe the circus goes out of business. Or the zoo shuts down or decides that the elephant is just too expensive and too time consuming to care for. What then? Gulp. Do they... Do they... Do they meet some unspeakable end?

Sadly some do. Between the beatings, the confinement in cells sized for human prisoners, chained to the floor, or victims of biting cold in climates unsuited to animals of African and Asian origin, some elephants do endure a wretched existence until they can take it no more.

But not all. Some mercifully find sanctuary where they are welcomed as wanted guests and given everything an elephant needs to live in true elephant style. They spend their days roaming free in natural woods and pasture, socializing with other elephants, taking dust baths and splashing in ponds. There's Winkie from the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin. There's Dulary from the Philadelphia Zoo and Shirley from the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo. Many others spent their entire working lives traveling in circuses. Now they all roam 2,700 acres of natural-habitat refuge in Hohenwald, Tennessee.

Tennessee? Why, of all places, Tennessee? Surprisingly to most of us, Tennessee is the perfect spot for retired and weakened elephants. The climate is temperate, similar to many of the locations where elephants are born and spend their lives in the wild. It's also a place where you can find thousands of acres still kept as a natural habitat and nowhere near the encroachment of urban sprawl. This is where you'll find The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee.

Elephant and baby. Elephants like these would love your support.I use the term find loosely. The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is not a theme park, not a zoo and certainly not a resident circus. There's no entertainment. In fact, there's no access unless you are a member of the staff or on occasional volunteer days. This sanctuary is not just about elephants, it's FOR the elephants. The whole idea is that elephants get to behave like elephants do naturally, but in a safe environment with minimal unwanted intrusion by humans. Oh, some interaction is wanted. Like the soothing foot soaks and fresh produce deliveries. Ahhhh.

The rest of the time, the elephants are on their own. They're free to roam the sanctuary grounds, pick and choose who they care to hang out with at the moment, or come into their large protective barns when it gets a little nippy on winter nights. Most of the time they prefer to sleep outside, but the heated floor and translucent walls of the new barn can be very enticing.

Wouldn't you just love to see what's happening at The Elephant Sanctuary for yourself? There is a way. You can be an elephant voyeur right now and peek in on what they're doing. Just click on the EleCam, a real time video feed from selected spots on the 2,700 acres. Perhaps you'll see a group of elephants just browsing. Maybe its time to roll in the mud or splash in the pond. One look and you'll find yourself coming back for a peek whenever you have a few moments to spare.

If seeing the elephants and reading their stories brings a lump to your throat, then you've found something you like to be part of. Instead of just writing a check that gets lost in the coffers of some megacharity, how about sending a few medical supplies or some copy paper to The Elephant Sanctuary? They always seem to need more replacement Verizon Wireless cell phones. For some reason they keep getting lost in the water troughs, foot soaks and muck. Do you have a favorite elephant? Perhaps one you met as a child? How about calling their favorite grocer and having some fresh produce sent over?

Of course, an operation this size has some pretty big needs as well. A tractor with front-end loader costs $35,000. That's a huge sum for most individuals, but with a click of the mouse you can contribute something toward the goal. As of this writing, there is a matching grant that will effectively double your contribution. You be recognized almost immediately on the "Sanctuary Much" page.

There's truly something important for The Elephant Sanctuary that will capture your imagination and bring a smile to your face as you click the link and place your order. Check the constantly updating Wish List and you'll see.

Want to leave a lasting legacy? Endow an elephant. Each elephant has an endowment fund, kinda like a college fund, that will ensure there is enough money to feed and care for that elephant indefinitely. Put a little something away for a deserving elephant, just as you would for those nieces, nephews and grand kids.

There's so much more to the heartwarming stories of these elephants and their continuing adventures at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. If you crave more, visit their website to read the "Trunklines" newsletter and be sure to sign up for their email "eTrunklines" newsletter so you, too, can become part of the family.

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Visit These Related Links:

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee - Founded in 1995, its mission is to provide a haven for old, sick or needy elephants and education on the crisis facing the wonderful animals that we've all come to know and love.

Elephant Education - Learning materials for teachers and parents. Two units focused on the needs of children grades K-3 and 4-8 are available as free downloads for classroom or home use.

Our Girl's Gift Shop - Shop for yourself or other elephant enthusiasts on your gift list. Choose from clothing, tote bags, note cards, videos, music, books, arts and handicrafts.

Help an Elephant Blog - Focused on helping elephants worldwide, this blog is a must-read for anyone interested in the plight of these gentle giants and helping them get a better life.

Help an Elephant - Redgage - Read interesting posts & view videos about elephants and other topics. Earnings support elephant causes.

Help Rescue Elephants - In Defense of Animals, IDA, is proactively working to rescue elephants in need of help and get them to a sanctuary where they will be well cared for and have the companionship of other elephants. Will you help in this cause by lending your voice?

Help Build Bull Mountain - PAWS (Performing Animal Wildlife Sanctuary) is building a protected habitat for bull elephants called Bull Mountain. Help them get it fenced so that rescued bulls have a safe place to go.

Elephant News - Get the latest news about elephants around the world.

I Want a Baby Elephant For Christmas - A parody of the famous hippopotamas song with a message for elephant lovers.

Give and Give Back - Instead of piling up more stuff that no one knows what to do with, consider a charitable gift that will do a lot of good.

Raise Money as You Search - GoodSearch donates a small amount to the charity of your choice every time you use it as your search engine. It's powered by Yahoo! to deliver excellent search results. Please enter "The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee" where it says Who Do You GoodSearch For?



(c) 2007 - 2018 by John E. Shepler. Contact me at: John (at) JohnShepler.com

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First Published: August 12, 2007