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This is a complicated issue. The Elephant Sanctuary and the Performing Animal Welfare Society are great facilities and do the best they can for their elephants. But so do many zoos.
Group Seeks Move of Elephants to Sanctuary 2012-01-13 By Tim Hrenchir THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL "A retirement retreat for tired elephant feet."
Protected Contact The Elephant Sanctuary was founded on the ideology of Passive Control— our elephants are never chained or forced to do our bidding but instead have the freedom to just be elephants as much as possible. While positive interactions have always been the basis of the Sanctuary’s relations with our elephants, the Sanctuary has also become the guardian of elephants who were treated severely in their past. Those elephants often hold a deep seated distrust of humans that is often triggered by being in close quarters, or even certain sights or sounds. To address the challenging medical and psychological needs of these and all of our elephants, in early 2011, the Sanctuary began working with Active Environments (AE).
A natural refuge where sick, old and needy elephants can once again walk the earth in peace and dignity. Our Mission The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, founded in 1995, is the nation's largest natural habitat refuge developed specifically for endangered African and Asian elephants. The Sanctuary operates on 2,700 acres in Hohenwald, Tennessee — 85 miles southwest 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, dense forests, spring-fed ponds and heated barns for cold winter nights.