Have you ever wondered what happens to elephants when they retire from the circus or from the zoo? One place they go to live out their natural lives is the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee. This safe habitat is over 2000 acres, and currently has both Asian and African elephants. I am excited to share that one of my former students, Amanda Coleman Chanley, works there and has first hand knowledge of the sanctuary.
Amanda and her husband moved to Hohenwald in 2003 when their oldest daughter was one year old. Her parents lived there, and her mother was cleaning homes for residents, one of which was a co-founder of the sanctuary. That was Amanda’s first opportunity to learn more about the Elephant Sanctuary. In August 2004, she started working part time in the office, which at that time was located on the grounds of the Sanctuary, As Amanda explained, “The office was on the top floor of the elephant barn. During the summer, the elephants didn’t come into the barn much. When the weather began to get cold, the elephants came in more often and stayed longer periods of time in the heated barn. Like any animal barn, we got that ‘farm’ smell. It was quite pungent, and I was really ready for a shower at the end of the day!”
In 2005, the office moved to a different location and just recently to their newly renovated downtown office/education gallery!
Amanda now works 32 hours a week, processing the mail, and proofing donor acknowledgments that go out in the mail. As a non-profit, the Elephant Sanctuary is funded by donations. She relates that she has learned so much about elephants and how their lives are affected in captivity. She says that so many people are just unaware of the serious problems that affect elephants in captivity both physically and mentally. The Sanctuary has really focused on educating the public through different ways that are non-invasive to the elephants that are retired here. Currently there are fifteen (two African and thirteen Asian) elephants at the Sanctuary. An “elecam” allows people to see the elephants in the habitat without disturbing them. http://www.elephants.com/elecam/ The elephants that come to the sanctuary are able to live like elephants and no longer are they put on display for human entertainment.
Amanda says she is proud to be part of such a wonderful organization that really cares deeply for the welfare of elephants. She enjoys working there and being able to witness the always expanding public awareness and generosity of people.
“It’s an exciting place to be,” she says.
You can learn more about these elephants and the Sanctuary at the following links: the website - http://www.elephants.com/ and in the 2009 annual report - http://www.elephants.com/pdf/AR2009.pdf - which details the operations of the sanctuary, stories and wonderful photos of the elephants who live there, and how people can help. Thanks to Amanda for sharing her knowledge and experiences about The Elephant Sanctuary.
Pam Todd, an avid crocheter and animal lover, is a member of the Crafting for Animals Guild on Artifire. Her Artfire shop may be found here: http://www.bagsandmorebypam.artfire.com/