Mark Hopkins Schell Bequest Will Expand The Sanctuary’s International Giving To Protect Elephants Worldwide

Mark Hopkins Schell with his dogs


Media Contact: Kate Mason

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is pleased to announce a generous bequest from Mark Hopkins Schell in support of elephant welfare and conservation efforts around the world.

Mark Hopkins Schell— a philanthropist, model, actor, and business owner—was outraged by the poaching of elephants and rhinos and the consequential threat of extinction. Mr. Schell understood elephants’ vital ecological role as a keystone species. His hope was that this gift would be used to bring about greater public awareness and support to the crisis facing animals in the wild and benefit the welfare of elephants in captivity.

“Mark felt it was our collective responsibility to protect nature. Spreading awareness of the issues and finding solutions is something he thought about and hoped that his gifts could benefit,” said Pamela Thorsch, life-long friend and Trustee.

To honor Mark’s legacy and contribution, The Elephant Sanctuary is awarding gifts for the 2018 calendar year to international organizations working to protect elephants in the wild, and promoting practices to improve the well-being of captive elephants around the globe. The Sanctuary collaborates with and supports international organizations on four continents: Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America. Their programs focus on elephant-human conflict, anti-poaching, habitat preservation, field work to add to the knowledge of elephants, rescue and rehabilitation, improved management and care in captivity, and providing veterinary care.

"Mr. Schell’s bequest allows The Sanctuary to expand international giving to help create a world where elephants no longer live under constant threat of poaching, habitat loss, conflict, or capture—and captive elephants are able to live out their lives in habitats dedicated to their well-being,” said Janice Zeitlin, CEO of The Elephant Sanctuary.

In late December, The Sanctuary’s Board reviewed global projects and proposals for elephant conservation and welfare and has awarded gifts to the following organizations:

ElephantVoices (Africa)

For the expansion of a unique, user-friendly, fully searchable elephant gestures and calls database to document the complex and diverse communication and behavior of African elephants for scientists and others to study, compare and share.

Elephant Haven (Europe)

To support the building of a barn and perimeter fence for the retirement of the sanctuary’s first elephant in 2018.

Wildlife SOS (India)

For Mahout Training Project to better serve the 3,000 captive elephants in the care of mahouts, involving both classroom and field experience in positive reinforcement training, foot care and veterinary needs.

Stellenbosch University (Africa)

In support of expanded TB research in wild elephants.

Caitlin O’Connell/Utopia Scientific/African Elephant Society (Africa)

For continued research of the long-term dynamic of wild African elephant societies and the implications for conservation.

Center of Excellence in Elephant and Wildlife Research (Thailand)

To offer mobile veterinary services for the healthcare and treatment of sick and injured elephants in an expanded remote area, currently without veterinary care.

Working Dogs 4 Conservation (Africa and Asia)

To train rescue dogs in global conservation projects including the detection of ivory poaching and trafficking.

Global Sanctuary for Elephants (Brazil)

To help secure land in preparation for the retirement of Asian elephants in South America and support the development of the African Elephant Care Center.

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