Friday, January 1, 2016


Although there is no precedent for returning captive elephants such as Billy to the wild, there is an alternative: Sanctuary. There are currently two Sanctuaries in the United States devoted to providing a life of dignity and autonomy within a safe, appropriate habitat for elephants imprisoned and traumatized by the entertainment industry. The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, provides a permanent home for captive elephants on more than 2,700 acres ( The Performing Animal Welfare Society operates a 2,300 acre sanctuary in San Andreas, California for elephants and other captive wildlife, and is a "dedicated endeavor to provide the best quality of life for victims of captivity." ( While Sanctuary can never replace life in the wild, and the concept in no way justifies or endorses captivity, it provides a space where "individual elephants may recover a more naturalistic life in captivity to the extent they are capable of doing so given their history." (Sanctuary for Elephants - Overall Principles,

For further discussion of elephant trauma recovery and the concept of Sanctuary (as opposed to zoos), please see this article in Psychology Today:

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