Asian elephants taking a bath - Photo by Katie Hollamby_elefootprints

The Elephant Cause - The Global Sanctuary for Elephants

Not every country can boast of the magnificence of unique animals such as elephants, rhinos, Polar bears and so on. For this reason, crowds have been drawn to zoo or the thrilling circus for a chance to see these animals in their own city or a nearby town. Some adults assume this is a great way to expose their children to animals they otherwise would never see in their local environment. Every year, school busses packed with students venture to zoos offering them an opportunity to learn about wild animals, with real-life experience.


Asian Elephant in thought

It is no doubt that many families love to learn about wild animals and to see them in person. Joyous smiles fill the faces of children as they boast about the exceptionality of their favorite animal for days afterward. Though the fun of the seemingly innocent outing would be brought to a screeching halt if the behind-the-scenes truths in some of these establishments were revealed.

It's important to highlight that the elephants showcased in circuses and some zoos are denied the most important resources that give their lives meaning. Many captive elephants become fearful, unhealthy, unhappy, and often stressed out to the point of aggression as a result of the cruel environments in which they are kept. These highly social animals are accustomed to living in matriarchal herds to protect each other and share love. The pain they feel from being ripped from their natural environments and families parallel our own.

Asian Elephants Relaxing - Photo by Katie Hollamby

Asian Elephant Family Relaxing


For a mystifying creature that can walk up to 30 miles in search of food and water and is active for 18 hours of each day, these captive animals live a depressing life in which they are imprisoned and violently trained especially in the circus. Their captive keepers routinely electrocute and whip them or use bull hooks to poke them until they learn to perform confusing tricks, not within their natural instincts.

Bull hooks, also known as ankus or elephant goads, are often used in the circus and also to train elephants in Asia to offer rides to humans. Bull hooks have sharp ends that are used to pierce through the elephant's skin to cause harm and elicit a response from the elephant. These devices are used to punish the elephant if he or she does not comply to the wants of the trainer. Keep your eyes open for items like this when you visit elephants to ensure that they are not being mistreated.

Why is it so Important to Save the Elephant Population?

With over 5,000 elephants held in captivity, only 120 of the are living in sanctuaries. Unlike the ones forced to perform in circuses or be part of an exhibit at zoos, sanctuaries offer a large environment, close to that of their natural habitat. Many rescued elephants come from abusive environments where they were expected to perform, but many also come from the wild, who have been injured and may not be able to survive in the wild.

Asian elephant in chains

Asian circus elephant in chains


Sanctuaries offer a safe place for these elephants to roam in a small herd, without poachers, predators, or demanding trainers. Unfortunately, the entertainment industry is not the only reason elephants are in danger and must be protected. Read this blog post over Four Reasons the Environment needs Elephants for more information about their importance to nature.

Most elephants used by circuses and zoos were captured from the wild and forced to leave their freedom and families behind. These industries try to validate captive breeding by saying it helps prevent elephants from going extinct. But the ones bred by circuses and zoos will never be released into the wild.


Elephant giving rides to tourists


Elephants in the free wild form amazing bonds with their families or herd. Mothers are intensely maternal and emotional, grieving for years after an infant is taken or killed. Too often they can only watch their babies be taken away by humans and tortured for profit. This causes great psychological trauma for both the mother and baby.

The Great Work that The Global Elephant Organization is Doing!

Global Sanctuary for Elephants Logo
Global Sanctuary for Elephants

Elephants held in captivity by zoos and circuses around the world, are suffering every day. Years of isolation, restraint, malnutrition, abuse, and lack of proper medical care take a harsh physical and psychological toll on these beautiful mammals. The Global Elephant Organization is becoming more and more knowledgeable about positive actions that need to be taken in order to save our elephants.  With all the resources available, sometimes a solution for these elephants simply doesn’t exist. There is nowhere for them to go that meets their needs. Only a life that replicates the elephant’s natural habitat, where they can be supported and cared for with minimal human interaction is exactly what is necessary.  Sanctuaries offer elephants that life.

Scott and Kat Blais of the Global Sanctuary for Elephants, have over 36 years of experience working with captive elephants between the both of them. Scott is a well-known expert in elephant natural habitat and sanctuary development and is the proud co-founder of two elephant sanctuaries. These include the first in South America, and the largest in North America: The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and Elephant Sanctuary Brazil.  They have spent countless hours analyzing the impacts of captivity and promoting protective legislation to help the species. Kat has spent more than 15 years as a licensed veterinary technician and licensed wildlife rehabilitator.  Kat manages the Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release Program and elephant health at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil. Watch their video here.

Because Scott and Kat are committed to identifying opportunities where they can have the greatest impact, Global Sanctuary for Elephants actively monitors global progress in performing animal welfare legislation. A growing number of elephants are being displaced by ongoing bans on performing animals. Their sanctuaries can guarantee compassionate care in appropriate habitat.

How You Can Help?

Now, it’s up to us to create the future that elephants desperately need and richly deserve.  The simplest thing you can do is to learn about these beautiful creatures and create awareness. Read about the trials of elephants who are used for entertainment purposes such as circuses, tourism rides, and so on. They say that ignorance is bliss, but it sure is costly for these magnificent creatures. When you see an elephant doing something that is unnatural for its species, please think about what type of training and/or horrific treatment the elephant had to endure in order to be crowned worthy of that task. In most cases, an elephant is put through so much trauma and broken down in order to perform tasks that are considered entertainment for human beings.

Please do your research before deciding to take part in the activities mentioned in this elephant blog and others that seem unnatural to elephants, you may save an elephant's life. We're taught in economics that when demand dries up, the supply suffers, so for instance if tourists stop riding elephants, the locals will have to be resourceful and find other means to obtain income, but if more people continue to ride elephants, more locals will use this as an opportunity to make a living.

For more educational information, please visit the Global Sanctuary for Elephants to find specific ways you can help the Elephants who are suffering in captivity.

We love the Global Sanctuary for Elephants and we donate and set up Facebook fundraisers for them a few times a year. 

Thank you image from the Global Sanctuary for Elephants

Thank you card for donating to the Global Sanctuary for Elephants


Humans have so much love for elephants, and many of us are in awe of their presence when we get close to them. What you need to take into consideration is, "at what cost to the elephant (or any other wild animal in captivity) does such closeness come with?" And what benefit does it bring to the elephant? If none, the interaction is probably not in their best interest.

Separating baby elephants from their mothers is inhumane

Separating baby elephants from their mothers is inhumane


Do your part to save the Elephants by joining our elephant cause. Join us in helping these captive elephants by visit our shop, sharing this with your friends, and helping to educate others on the mistreatment of elephants.

We donate 10% of the net profits from our store to elephant conservation efforts in Africa and Brazil. Please subscribe to become a member of the Herd so that you can get newsletter updates and discounts. Don’t forget to give us a shout out on social media #elefootprints.

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