The Elephant Sanctuary Begins the Largest Rescue of Needy Circus Elephants in US History

Misty Loving LifeHohenwald, TN (November 29, 2005)- Following months of negotiations, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee has been granted the care of 12 needy elephants from the Hawthorn Corp in Richmond, IL. Having recently received three elephants from this herd, the Sanctuary will begin transferring the remaining 9 elephants in late December and plans to have completed the transfer by mid-January. As the single largest rescue of elephants in US history, this is an unprecedented event that could not have come too soon. The Sanctuary is receiving these elephants as a result of a lawsuit filed by the USDA against the Hawthorn facility late last year.

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, the foremost facility in the US for the care of sick and abused elephants, made an offer to take in all of the female Hawthorn elephants in May of this year.

Shirley and JennyOperating on 2,700 acres in Hohenwald, Tennessee, the Sanctuary is the nation’s largest natural habitat refuge developed specifically to meet the needs of endangered African and Asian elephants. The non-profit organization, licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, is designed specifically for old, sick or needy elephants who have been retired from zoos and circuses. As a true sanctuary, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is not intended to provide entertainment. Residents are not required to perform or entertain for the public; instead, they are encouraged to live like elephants. As stated by Phil Snyder, regional director of the Humane Society of the United States, “The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee represents the future of enlightened captive elephant management.” Though an agreement had not yet been reached, the Sanctuary’s founders, Carol Buckley and Scott Blais, raised an initial $3 million to build a new state-of-the-art barn to make room for the TB exposed herd. Tarra and Carol The Hawthorn Corporation and The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, after months of negotiations, reached an agreement under which Hawthorn will donate 9 of their remaining female elephants. While the Sanctuary has raised a portion of the funds needed for the transfer, the organization estimates they will need an additional $65,000 to complete the transfer. This amount does not include the cost of the antibiotics that each infected elephant will require for her year long course of treatment for tuberculosis, estimated to cost $200,000, nor the standard expenses of regular medical care, hundreds of pounds of fruits, vegetables and grain, daily, nine semi trailer loads of hay annually, and trained caregivers. The annual cost to care for these nine elephants is estimated to be $2,000,000.

To find out what you can do to help The Elephant Sanctuary in their continued care of these elephants please visit To find out more about The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee visit To read more about the elephants, see our related stories:

A Boundless Spirit: The Misty Story

Sanctuary: The Tarra Story

Interview with Carol Buckley

Elephants are Guides for the Soul


by By The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee (Ele-diary excerpts, and all photos used with permission of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee)