Open main menu

The Elephant Sanctuary (Hohenwald)

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee in Hohenwald, Tennessee, is a non-profit organization licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). Founded in 1995, The Sanctuary has provided a home to 28 elephants, all retired from zoos and circuses. The Elephant Sanctuary provides these elephants with a natural habitat, individualized care for life, and the opportunity to live out their lives in a safe haven dedicated to their well being. The Sanctuary currently has 7 Asian elephants and 4 African elephants. The Elephant Habitats are not open to the public.

The Elephant Sanctuary In Tennessee
Date opened1995
LocationHohenwald, Tennessee
United States
Coordinates35°32′53.9376″N 87°33′3.33″W / 35.548316000°N 87.5509250°W / 35.548316000; -87.5509250Coordinates: 35°32′53.9376″N 87°33′3.33″W / 35.548316000°N 87.5509250°W / 35.548316000; -87.5509250
Land area1,100 hectares (2,700 acres)
No. of animals11
No. of species2 species:
Elephas maximus
Loxodonta africana
Annual visitorsnot open to public

At over 2,700 acres (11 km2), the sanctuary consists of three separate and protected, natural habitat environments for Asian and African elephants; a 2,200-acre (9 km2) Asian facility, a 200-acre (0.81 km2) quarantine area and a 300-acre (1.2 km2) African habitat.

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee has a four-star rating from Charity Navigator.[1]



In 1995, The Elephant Sanctuary was started on 100 acres (0.4 km2) with one elephant, Tarra. A 9,000-square-foot (800 m2) barn was added in 1999, and, in 2001, a 700-acre (2.8 km2) section of land with a 25-acre (100,000 m2) lake was acquired. Another 1,840 acres (7 km2) were purchased and the sanctuary expanded to 2,700 acres (11 km2) in 2003. The first two African elephants were accepted for the new African habitat in 2004. The existing herd of Asian elephants was relocated to a new 2,200 acres (9 km2) habitat to accommodate eight incoming elephants who needed to be quarantined in 2005. This new area includes a 22,000 sq ft (2,000 m2) barn and 20,000 sq ft (2,000 m2) hay barn which is able to hold up to 35,000 bales of hay.


The development of the Sanctuary was done in several stages. It was originally built in phases and then expanded whenever funding was available or the elephants needed more space or accommodation. Twenty miles of double fencing encloses The Elephant Sanctuary's 2,700 acres (11 km2). Heated barns located in the Asia, Africa, and Quarantine Habitats offer additional warmth during the cooler winter months. The Asia and Africa barns were constructed using Leadership in Environmental and Energy design plans. The facilities have many features that protect the environment and reduce their carbon footprint.


The Elephant Sanctuary's Welcome Center, opened in 2010, hosts drop-in visitors every Thursday and Friday from 11 AM to 4 PM. The Welcome Center is also open on selected Saturdays of each month. Although the visitors cannot physically see the elephants (in keeping with Sanctuary philosophy), they can interact with staff and watch the elephants via live-streaming video. The Welcome Center also provides in person programs for school groups, civic/social groups, and the general public upon request.

The Sanctuary also has a web-based Distance Learning program that allows The Sanctuary to link up with classrooms and other audiences online. These programs are also available upon request.

The Welcome Center will expand to become The Elephant Discovery Center in 2016.


  1. ^ "The Elephant Sanctuary". Charity Navigator.

2. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

External linksEdit