Elephant Sanctuary Response to USDA Inspection

Dear Sanctuary Friends,

As supporters, staff members and board members together, we have a united goal to ensure the very best quality life for our elephants. To do so we are committed to providing them the freedom to roam and explore their habitat, to bond with their fellow elephants and the opportunity to heal both physically and emotionally in an environment that allows them to find their true elephant natures. 

Many of our elephants come to us with chronic and sometimes debilitating health problems brought on by their time in captivity, and to compound this physical damage many also suffer deep psychological scars from neglect, isolation or as a result of trauma or abuse. With each year we are grateful to learn more and more about these amazingly resilient animals and what is truly essential to ensure the best quality life for them in captivity. To that end, The Sanctuary staff participates in a constantly evolving model of husbandry and veterinary care implementing best practices to meet the physical, social and psychological needs of the “Whole Elephant.”  Using exclusively positive reinforcement training methods in a Protected Contact management system, each elephant is treated as an individual and is taught to participate in their own health care.  This is no easy task. It is one that the Caregiver and Veterinary Staff dedicates itself daily to – finding the balance between health care provision and the freedom to choose to wander their 2700 acre sanctuary and just be elephants.

As an organization dedicated to quality, The Elephant Sanctuary is accredited by the Global Federation of Sanctuaries and is licensed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA).  As such, we are subject to periodic inspections and regulatory oversight by these agencies to ensure that we are meeting the standards set forth in the Animal Welfare Act, among other regulatory requirements.

An inspection held in late January identified concerns by the USDA in the areas of The Sanctuary’s staffing, training and our health care delivery, which resulted in 2 citations by the USDA. Many of these concerns had been identified by The Elephant Sanctuary in late 2012 and were already actively being addressed. In an effort to keep our supporters fully informed, we submit for your review both the USDA citations, and The Sanctuary’s official response which provides for clarifications and assurances that all concerns cited in the inspection report dated 1/31/13 are being addressed. 

Thank you for your ongoing support.


The Staff and the Board of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

Click here to review The Elephant Sanctuary’s response to the USDA Inspection Report.