Un-cage the elephants! Learn more about the Elephant Sanctuary!

By Deirdre Healy

Elephants are highly social, sensitive, playful, intelligent animals.  There are about 600 elephants living in captivity in the United States in zoos, circuses and sanctuaries.  The majority are used to provide entertainment in circuses and zoos.  There are several elephant sanctuaries in the country that rescue elephants and allow traumatized elephants to recover from the debilitating experience of captivity.  There is no ethical way of keeping an elephant in captivity.

Circuses can be grueling for elephants.  Their sensitive skin is hit with bull hooks to “train” and control them.  They endure long trips in small, confined spaces which can cause long-term problems with their feet and legs.  Wild elephants normally walk close to 20 miles a day.  Being cramped in small zoo enclosures or daily trips in small containers for the circus is torture for them.

Coming to a sanctuary is a blessing for the elephants and the caregivers.  After living in very difficult conditions that are not natural for them, a sanctuary provides them freedom to roam; something they had not experienced before.  Elephants communicate very well.  The caregivers, while working hard throughout the day for the elephants, report that they often have heart-touching communication with them.  The elephants communicate through noises such as squeaks and rumbles, as well as their actions.

At a sanctuary, because elephants are freed from the abuse they suffered at the hands of humans, they are not there for anyone’s entertainment.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is common in elephants that were held in captivity.

One sanctuary that I have volunteered at is The Elephant Sanctuary.  This is a wonderful place with a worthwhile mission helping this endangered species.  For more information, go to www.elephants.com.




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