Two animal rights groups — World Animal Protection and Elephant Haven — plan to open France’s first-ever elephant sanctuary.
The partnership between the organizations came after the World Animal Protection mobilized more than 50,000 Danish supporters, following the Danish parliament’s pledge to prohibit circuses from using wild animals.
Hundreds of thousands of wild animals get captured and forced into the entertainment industry to make a profit. Riding wild animals or watching them in a show may seem harmless and fun because tourists are not aware of the hidden cruelty — both mental and physical — captive animals experience.
More than 100 elephants live in circuses across Europe and have no safe place to retire, so the Danish supporters asked the government to intervene to end elephant cruelty. An additional 14 other countries in Europe have enacted similar bans, and most will come into effect this year.
Elephant Haven’s Plans
Relocating elephants back to their country of origin is not always possible, which is why Elephant Haven will provide the first sanctuary for the elephants and give them the life they deserve.
Operating entirely on donations and sponsorships, Elephant Haven will build heated barns with interior stables that will always be accessible to the elephants. Security cameras will be placed inside and outside the barns to ensure the elephants’ safety, and permanent security will be on site. The first barn is on track for completion by the end of summer and will house three elephants.
World Animal Protection is calling on elephant owners to release distressed animals as soon as the sanctuary has equipped itself to care for them.
Elephant Haven plans to complete a second barn in 2020 to house an additional five elephants. Sustainability is central to building the barns, as well as the daily operations of Elephant Haven.
To provide the freshest food and lessen the environmental impact, Elephant Haven plans to purchase locally produced items whenever possible — a trend that is sweeping nonprofits and companies alike in recent years, and is showing enormous progress toward a more eco-friendly food industry.
They will build different living quarters to separate Asian and African elephants. To allow more opportunities for social rehabilitation, indoor and outdoor areas can introduce the elephants to each other in a safe way. Between the outside areas, Elephant Haven will implement steel pipe fences that allow the different groups of elephants to live separately, if needed. The fences can also open for larger living spaces.
Each elephant will have at least five acres at his or her disposal to run free and remain solitary if they wish. Hills will also provide mobility stimulation for them.
Elephant Haven will build a walking path and observation platform for visitors but will not allow guests or volunteers to contact the elephants. An education center and multi-purpose area are also in their plans, as well as purchasing more land in the future to rescue more elephants.
Elephants’ Happy Ending
Elephant Haven vows to provide a safe and natural habitat for the magnificent animals. They will never use chains or restraints. Elephants will have protected contact with caregivers — meaning there is a barrier between the elephant and caregiver — and veterinary services will be available.
Elephant Haven will not breed the elephants, and they will always consider the nature of the animals and what is best for them.
Ultimately, the elephants will be able to live as freely as they would in the wild and enjoy a happy life outside the circus. This is great progress toward a world that is kinder and more considerate of the needs and comfort of animals.