From the San Francisco Bay to the “high forest” of Hohenwald, Tennessee, African elephant Donna has recently been welcomed back to the southeastern United States — and into her new home at The Elephant Sanctuary — at age 43. Born in Namibia, she spent her first years in America at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans and has resided at the Oakland Zoo in California since 1990. This long-legged elephant, known for her love of melons, was trained using positive reinforcement to enter her travel trailer in preparation for the cross-country journey from Oakland to Hohenwald this fall. Donna became the 32nd resident of The Sanctuary in September.
Elephant owners and caregivers making decisions to send their elephants to The Sanctuary note the opportunities here for companionship and socialization. In the wild, elephants live in matriarchal herds, relying on each other for safety, survival, and the emotional bonds that keep them psychologically healthy throughout their lives. We are thrilled that Donna is joining the established African herd of Flora, Tange, and Sukari. Since Donna's arrival, she and Flora have exchanged tactile interactions over the fence in between exploring their adjacent habitat spaces.
These intelligent and social creatures — in addition to Artie, Nosey, Billie, Minnie, Debbie, Ronnie, and Sissy — are thriving in this refuge dedicated to their care, thanks to the support of donors to The Elephant Sanctuary.
The best care is a commitment at The Elephant Sanctuary, with our integrated Veterinary and Husbandry Teams dedicated to meeting the complex needs of each individual elephant: those related to diet, socialization, preventative and responsive medical treatment, and even just character quirks observed through time spent around these majestic animals.
Aging elephants that have lived many decades in captivity often come to The Sanctuary with conditions similar to aging humans, like joint pain. Recent innovations for individualized care include a recycled firehose woven together to create a giant and sturdy hammock for elephants like Sissy to lean into, providing extra support while reducing weight on legs and feet. Staff also mounted a giant tire swing in the barn, which elephants can use to help lift themselves up from a resting position. The rubber flooring that provides cushion for standing, in addition to the upkeep of sand piles in each barn stall, facilitates rest and comfort for our elephants throughout the year.
In this time of growth, The Elephant Sanctuary’s Staff is constantly adapting skills, land, and facilities for the well being of its residents, current and future.
Thank you for supporting our mission with your financial support!
Please note: Supporters who mail checks to The Elephant Sanctuary for the 2023 Year End Campaign will have their gifts counted and recognized in our goal progress on this page.
To view or download a digital version of the full Year End Campaign mailing, click here.