Providing home, herd, rest, refuge, and individualized care for life.

Our Mission

The Elephant Sanctuary exists to...

  • provide elephants with individualized care, the companionship of a herd, and the opportunity to live out their lives in a safe haven dedicated to their well-being
  • educate the public of the complex needs of elephants and the crisis facing elephants in the wild
African Elephant Walking at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

Our Work

Since 1995, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee has provided home and care to 33 elephants. Currently, there are 12 elephant residents, with space to welcome more. The Sanctuary initially began on 110 acres and has since expanded to encompass multiple separate and protected, diverse habitats, spanning over 3,060 acres.

The Sanctuary is honored to provide lifelong care for elephants. The changing needs of elephants as they age require lifetime care plans. The shared commitment to each elephant’s health and well-being often leads to beneficial collaboration with other elephant facilities and owners.

Elephants also come to The Sanctuary due to legal authorities’ actions, often related to violations of the Animal Welfare Act.  In 2003, Delhi was the first elephant confiscated by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in North America. Delhi, an Asian elephant, spent over fifty years traveling and performing. Delhi was confiscated by USDA and placed at The Sanctuary after substantiated reports of inadequate care and inhumane treatment. The Sanctuary has been called to take eleven additional elephants rescued by authorities.

Public awareness and subsequent action are essential to creating a better world for all elephants. Educating the public about the plight of elephants is important to The Sanctuary’s mission. Through our free Distance Learning programs, The Sanctuary reaches hundreds of school and community groups around the world teaching a respect for wildlife while learning about the crisis facing Asian and African elephants.  The Elephant Discovery Center on Main Street in Hohenwald offers hands-on, self-guided exhibits and educational programming that explores the many ways elephants shape our world.

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is closed to the public. The habitats are maintained specifically for the elephants and not open to viewing. The best way to see the elephants is through our live-streaming EleCams on our website.

The Sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Our Values

  • 1 Elephants are intelligent creatures with complex physical and social needs.
  • 2 Elephants in Sanctuary deserve nothing less than individualized, whole-elephant care for life.
  • 3 “Sanctuary” means providing a safe haven and natural habitat, dedicated solely to elephant wellbeing.
  • 4 Protected contact and positive reinforcement are cornerstones for working humanely, effectively, and safely with captive elephants.
  • 5 Animal welfare standards include nutrition, environment, health, behavior, and mental state.
  • 6 People can and must make a difference in protecting wild elephants so that the species can survive for generations to come.
  • 7 Collaboration and sharing of best practices leads to better management, treatment and care for elephants everywhere.
  • 8 Staff thrive on teamwork, continuous learning, and shared commitment to the wellbeing of the elephants entrusted to The Sanctuary’s care.
  • 9 Honesty, integrity, and open communication with partners and key stakeholders are foundational to The Sanctuary’s relationship and business practices.
  • 10 A healthy ecosystem is a diverse one. Likewise, a healthy workplace thrives on diversity, inclusivity, and equality.
  • 11 Sustainable decisions, processes, and purchasing demonstrate advocacy for the planet we share with the elephants entrusted to our care.
  • 12 Continuous learning about the biology and behavior of elephants supports our best practices.
Asian Elephant Grazing on Grass at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee
African Elephant Eating Hay at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee
Asian Elephant Walking Through The Forest at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to commonly raised questions about The Sanctuary, The Elephant Discovery Center, and The Sanctuary's Shop.



We use a system of solar-powered cameras to locate and monitor the elephants and to offer you, our friends and supporters, frequent glimpses of the elephants we are so fortunate to have in our care.

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