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Carol Buckley – Founder Of The Elephant Sanctuary

By Admin | October 26, 2007

In 1995 Carol Buckley helped found the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee. Before she founded the sanctuary she owned Tarra Productions, which rented out an Asian elephant named Tarra to circuses and other entertainment venues. 

What was the germination of the sanctuary? What caused you to go from hiring Tarra out to circuses to starting the Sanctuary?

It has been my life’s journey. I met Tarra as an infant, we performed together. As Tarra grew up, I realized her needs and dreamt of a place that would be just for elephants. That became the Sanctuary.


What is your funding source to get such a large establishment going?

We started with a dream, a small savings and lots of hard work. We had no outside funding. Over time people supported our work and we grew. Today, 12 years later, we have over 70,000 members who’s support enables us to continue to expand and accomplish our mission.

How were the 2700 acres obtained?

We started with 110 acres and purchased more land as the funds were raised.

Why are there no male elephants at the Sanctuary?

Elephants are matriarchal by nature. Elephant herds are strictly female with the exception of suckling males. Females live in related family groups made up of only females, while males live alone. In keeping with the Sanctuary’s mission to create a natural environment for elephants we do not force females to live with males.

Why are the African and Asian elephants segregated?

These are two completely separate species, with different language, behavior and dietary needs. They would never meet or mingle in the wild so they are not forced to live together at the Sanctuary.

Have there been any incidents with any of the staff being injured by the elephants at the sanctuary?

Last year one of our rescued elephants killed a caregiver. The tragic accident was identified as a classic post traumatic stress disorder episode; tragic for the caregiver, her family, her co-workers, and the elephant. PTSD was a direct result of the abuse this elephant suffered in captivity before being rescued by the Sanctuary.

How do you keep track of where the elephants are on a 2700 acre parcel of land?

Cameras and 4-wheelers.


Are the elephants put in a barn at night or are they allowed roam the Sanctuary?

The elephants are never forced inside a barn. They have freedom to choose if and when they wish to come inside. Most spend the majority of the year outside in the habitat only coming to the barn when the temperatures drop below 30’, which is usually night time during a few weeks of winter. So far this year (Oct 22, 2007) they have remained in the habitat.

Do elephants get cancer? What health regimen/checkup regimen do the elephants receive?I

have not heard of an elephant diagnosed with cancer. Our elephants get daily visual examinations and regular veterinary check ups. We draw blood and do fecal analysis to monitor health and collect annual trunk washes to monitor for tuberculosis.

You were at one time in the business of trained, performing elephants. What is your current position on trained elephant acts in circuses?

An elephant’s welfare is compromised if he/she is not allowed to live a life with other elephants, in a vast space, free of human dominance.

How do elephants show happiness? excitement? anxiety? sadness?

No differently than you or I.

<Can visitors come to the Sanctuary to observe the elephants?

As a true sanctuary, we are not open to the public. We offer free access to live streaming video on our web site where viewers can watch the elephants via cameras placed in the habit.

Copyright 2007 DailyInterview.net

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