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TUT's Adventurers Club
November 2010's 'Gifts From The Universe' Project:
Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee
A natural refuge where sick, old, and needy elephants can once again walk the earth in peace and dignity.
The Elephant Sanctuary exists for two reasons:
~To provide a haven for old, sick, or needy elephants in a setting of green pastures,
dense forests, spring-fed ponds and heated barns for cold winter nights.
~To provide education about the crisis facing these social, sensitive, passionately intense, playful, complex, exceedingly intelligent and endangered creatures.
The Elephant Sanctuary is a non-profit organization, licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and accredited by the Association of Sanctuaries, designed to care for elephants that have been retired from zoos and circuses. The land provides three separate and protected, natural-habitat environments for Asian and African elephants. The Sanctuary residents are not required to perform or entertain for the public (the Sanctuary is closed to the public); instead, they are encouraged to live like elephants.
As of June 2007, The Elephant Sanctuary has provided refuge to 23 needy elephants over a span of 12 years, using a management approach that imitates the behavior observed in wild herds of elephants. From the moment an elephant arrives at the Sanctuary he or she is managed with passive-control, a non-dominance management system developed by the Sanctuary. Currently 18 elephants reside at the Sanctuary, all females, both African and Asian, born in the wild and captured as calves. Each elephant was raised in a zoo or circus environment prior to moving to the Sanctuary’s natural-habitat refuge.
With space, elephants spend less time in proximity to caregivers and more time relating to one another. They learn to get their social and psychological needs met from one another, and they become a healthy, self-governing herd. The caregiver's role is not to dominate or dictate the elephants' lives but to provide a place where the elephants feel safe.
In a natural habitat environment elephants have access to a wide range of vegetation and topographical variations. Deciding on when and where to graze, when to submerge in a pond, where to enter the woods, and how long to remain there are all decisions that may seem simple but are vital to the well-being of the individual elephant. When allowed to “just be elephants” they have been observed self-medicating for everything from abdominal discomfort to mosquito bites. They search out nature's remedies that help to strengthen and heal their bodies. Contrary to what some might think, this system creates a harmonious situation in which a human can operate, not on the level of the dominant or submissive individual, but as an accepted member of the herd, able to accomplish husbandry tasks and medical procedures safely.
Perhaps the most important and challenging component of this system is time. In this system the elephants operate in their own time, not ours. Although they are creatures of habit whose movements can be anticipated, their movements should not be dictated. They are not ruled by our time clocks or schedules; instead they have an internal guide, which they follow. Allowing elephants to determine when they will do everything throughout their day and night is the ultimate freedom these animals can experience.
As part of our TUT's Adventurers Club mission, we have chosen Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee as our adoptive organization for the month. To reach our collaborative goal of support for them, please donate a dollar or more now at the link right below.