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For the Love of Elephants! Charity Gift Idea

Updated on November 24, 2011

Eighty-five miles southwest of Nashville, Tennessee, a 2700-acre sanctuary exists where more than a dozen Asian and African elephants live. Retired from circuses and zoos, the aged elephants, all females ranging from 32-63 years old, can be found roaming through forests and pastures that include springs, ponds, streams, and a 25-acre lake.

The Elephant Sanctuary

The Elephant Sanctuary, capable of caring for 100 elephants, was established in 1995 and has an “A” rating from The Philanthropy Institute, a charity watch-dog group.

At an annual cost of $125,000.00 per elephant, The Elephant Sanctuary is home to several elephants that were labeled as a danger by zookeepers and were kept in isolation. Upon arriving at The Elephant Sanctuary, these elephants became extremely playful and affectionate, thriving in their new environment.

You will also find a few celebrities living at The Elephant Sanctuary including Flora, an African elephant weighing in at over 10,000 pounds. Orphaned at two years old when her family was killed in Zimbabwe, Flora can be seen in PeeWee Herman’s movie, Big Top. Her life is also chronicled in the documentary, One Lucky Elephant.

Flora's Arrival

The Oldest Member of the Community: Shirley's Story

The most heart-felt story of all the elephants is Shirley’s, a 63-year-old Asian elephant that was captured in Sumatra at the age of five. Shirley spent most of her life performing in circuses and under terrible conditions. And while performing in Cuba, Shirley’s circus was held captive by Fidel Castro’s forces during Castro’s seizure of power.

While Shirley’s circus ship was docked in Nova Scotia, a fire broke out, sinking the ship and burning part of her ear. Although Shirley survived, she was then loaded onto a truck that was heading to Florida. The truck transporting Shirley was involved in a highway accident. She was the only elephant that survived. Still performing for the circus, Shirley was attacked by another elephant. Shirley’s leg was broken and was never mended.

Crippled and old, Shirley was moved to a zoo in Louisiana, where she lived in isolation for 22 years. She was relocated to The Elephant Sanctuary in 1999. From a picture on her biography, it looks as though Shirley is smiling.

These are only two of the elephants living out their remaining years in happiness at The Elephant Sanctuary. Majestic, captivating, and deserving of being treated like royalty, each elephant has an extensive biography on the nonprofit’s website, as well as photographs and videos.

Shirley Finds Happiness!

How You Can Help The Elephants: Charity Gift Ideas

If you or someone you know loves elephants, there are plenty of elephant gifts benefiting this charity that you can purchase. The Elephant Sanctuary’s gift shop includes tote bags, holiday cards, books, DVDs, calendars, and much more.

For $30.00, you can feed an elephant for a day or give this as a very unique elephant gift to someone who loves elephants. Simply go to The Elephant Sanctuary’s website and choose the elephant you want to feed. The donor will receive a picture of the elephant(s), along with the elephant’s biography, and a full year’s membership.

An extensive wish-list is listed on The Elephant Sanctuary’s website and includes vehicles and equipment they need. Even cheap items, like a Bow Rake for $10.99, are all it takes to help these elephants.


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