Nichole Is Here, Becoming The Sanctuary's 30th Resident

We are excited to announce that Nichole, a female Asian elephant, arrived safely at The Sanctuary from San Antonio Zoo, early on Thursday, March 9, officially making her one of 11 elephants now living at The Sanctuary and the 30th elephant resident since The Sanctuary was founded in 1995.

Nichole was part of San Antonio Zoo’s geriatric herd coined “The Golden Girls.” After the passing of Nichole’s two companions, Karen and Lucky, in 2022, San Antonio Zoo made the decision to transfer Nichole to The Sanctuary to provide her with continued social and herd opportunities. Nichole had been residing at San Antonio Zoo since 2016, after spending decades as part of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey traveling circus.

She made the 800-mile journey from San Antonio, Texas, to Hohenwald, Tennessee in a climate-controlled crate, alongside a transport team and San Antonio Zoo’s veterinarian, Elephant Manager, and support staff.

Nichole arrived just as the sun was rising, with a beautiful pink and violet sky to welcome her to her new home. The Elephant Sanctuary’s Care Staff and Vet Team greeted her with plenty of fresh water, favorite foods, and enrichment to make sure she was comfortable. She began to explore her surroundings inside the barn right away, intrigued by the enrichment, dusting herself with sand, and touching everything with her trunk.

Nichole is residing at Asia’s nine-stall heated barn with access to expansive habitat space. She ventured into South Yard for the first time yesterday, and after walking around to gather up hay to eat, she spent the morning sunbathing outside the barn door.

"It has been an exciting year for The Sanctuary as our herd continues to grow! We are honored to have the opportunity to care for Nichole as she ages," says Janice Zeitlin, CEO of The Sanctuary. “We have been modifying facilities and cross-training staff to ensure a comfortable transition for her. Nichole will be provided with space and opportunity to explore her new surroundings at her own pace."

Donors will be able to help contribute to Nichole’s care through our Adopt and Feed an Elephant programs in the coming weeks. Nichole t-shirts will also be available at, so stay tuned via our social media and website!

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