Sanctuary Principles

Global Sanctuary for Elephants has adopted the objectives identified by ElephantVoices, that we believe any sanctuary should meet, in terms of welfare outcomes for any elephant in care, appreciating that the needs of elephants vary through time and according to their individual histories. These objectives enable us to derive Program Principles for the operation of elephant sanctuaries and, in turn, permit us to draw conclusions about the Physical Aspects – the environment and facilities – that sanctuaries should provide.


Global Sanctuary for Elephants holds that the main objectives of an elephant sanctuary are to provide:

  • IMG_1074A management philosophy, facility lay-out and operational procedures based upon the physical, social and cognitive interests of elephants as documented by sound science and laid out in The Elephant Charter.
  • A place of refuge that seeks to restore and/or maintain the health and well-being of individual captive elephants.
  • Positive, flexible, nurturing care that seeks to fully recognize, understand and account for how the history of each elephant shapes its individual needs.
  • Environments and facilities in which individual elephants are helped to reach their fullest potential to lead a naturalistic life, following naturalistic rhythms.
  • A primary focus on developing and maintaining positive elephant-elephant social interaction through time.
  • Work practices for care givers that are safe, secure and fulfilling, yet follow the rhythms of elephant needs through each 24-hour cycle.
  • Facilities that allow for the careful introduction of elephants to each other, the continuous (24-hour) maintenance of social bonds and the careful separation and isolation of individuals when their individual welfare requires.


Global Sanctuary for Elephants holds that elephant sanctuaries shall:

  • Have site-specific mission statements that incorporate welfare objectives.
  • Receive individual captive elephants or rescued wild orphans, who may need rest-of-life captive-care or who may be returned to the wild at an appropriate time and place.
  • Assess the individual needs of each elephant received and anticipate how these needs will change over time.
  • Develop a flexible management program for each elephant that accounts for their particular history, from before they are transferred to the sanctuary and until their release to the wild or their death.
  • Seek to establish a naturalistic social life for each individual elephant that builds, reinforces and maintains social competence, confidence and resiliency.
  • Ensure that all direct interactions between humans and elephants are designed to positively reinforce each elephant in the steps they take toward a naturalistic life.
  • Provide a 24-hour care program for all elephants.
  • Deliver medical care as appropriate, with a holistic view of individual elephant health and wellbeing, addressing the underlying problems rather than the symptoms.
  • Employ caregivers sensitive to elephant needs, and ensure that training programs in elephant care and behavior are according to the best interest of the elephants.
  • Support the health and wellbeing of employees and their families, and recognize their dedication and service.
  • Implement site-specific codes of practice, including emergency response practices and practices to ensure elephant and human safety.
  • Develop site-specific business plans to support the financial and ecological sustainability of all sanctuary operations.
  • Use professionally recognized, legally compliant systems of sustainable human, financial and environmental resource management.
  • Use legally established systems of governance.


Global Sanctuary for Elephants holds that an elephant sanctuary:

  • Is a facility designed to meet the changing needs of individual captive elephants over time.
  • Is a facility secured by appropriately constructed strong non-injurious barriers from the ingress of uninvited people and animals and the egress of elephants that ensure the safety and comfort of elephants and people.
  • why brazil land headerIs located in a climate where elephants can remain comfortable out of doors, except in the event of extreme weather, throughout the year.
  • Encompasses areas of varied landscape that simulate natural elephant habitats in terms of topography and vegetation cover.
  • Encompasses areas sufficiently and appropriately varied to afford healthy elephants with mental and physical stimulation throughout each 24-hour cycle, according to natural rhythms indicated by wild elephant biology.
  • Encompasses a sufficient area to allow for a healthy elephant to obtain appropriate levels of physical exercise in pursuing food, water and social activity, throughout each 24-hour cycle without direct human mediation.
  • Encompasses sufficient habitat to permit the elephant inhabitants to obtain the majority of their nutritional intake from naturalistic foraging.
  • Provides elephants with a choice of shelter from extremes of climate and weather at all times.
  • Provides for securing individuals and groups of elephants in facilities that allow the safe introduction of individuals to each other and to groups; the safe introduction of groups to each other; the provision of medical treatment; and the isolation of individuals and groups for quarantine purposes.
  • Includes secure, safe, comfortable spaces, facilities and devices for the caregivers to deliver food, water, medical treatment and specific targeted elephant training that may be required to assist in rehabilitation.
  • Includes safe and secure facilities for the storage of supplemental elephant food and maintenance equipment.
  • Includes safe and secure facilities for the management of animal records and other administrative functions associated with operating the sanctuary.
  • Includes provision for heavy vehicle access to targeted points for targeted purposes.
  • Makes any provisions for guests secondary to the needs of the elephants, avoiding all potential conflict between elephant well-being and visitor safety.
Sanctuary for Elephants – Overall Principles – EV website
Elephant Charter  – EV website