In Asia, almost all captive elephants work.
They provide elephant back safaris for tourists, patrol national parks looking for signs of poaching, and are used for conservation research and grass collection among other physically demanding tasks.
These activities require elephants to work long hours in the sweltering heat, exposed to the glaring rays of the sun.
Presently there is no mandated retirement age for elephants.
Elephant Aid International works hands-on with mahouts, NGOs, tourist facilities, elephant welfare groups, researchers and government officials in joint efforts to effect change by improving elephant welfare in captivity and in situ, as well as the lives of mahouts and their families who care for elephants.
EAI’s work is based on understanding the culture and traditions of the countries in which it works, respect for elephants and the men and women who live and work with them, and the knowledge that small changes can make a huge difference.
- provides elephant pedicures.
- builds chain-free enclosures to eliminate the antiquated and physically harmful practice of chaining elephants’ feet to the ground.
- works with government agencies and NGOs to create permanent elephant care and retirement facilities.
- trains mahouts (elephant trainers) in the skills necessary to support foot health and prevent life-threatening osteomyelitis (bone disease).
- increases mahouts’ knowledge of elephant biology, psychology, behavior and learning style to help them develop more positive relationships with their elephants.
- improves elephant stable sanitation.
- provides veterinary services.
In the United States
EAI is creating the next generation of sanctuary for elephants in captivity, Elephant Refuge North America (ERNA).
Although there are elephants waiting to be retired, the retirement of elephants to sanctuaries has nearly come to a standstill in the U.S. The growing number of zoos and circuses that have stopped exhibiting elephants are sending them to facilities that are sanctuaries in name only.
Without true sanctuaries standing ready to receive elephants, rescue efforts by animal welfare organizations cannot come to a successful conclusion. As a result, elephants languish in less than suitable situations for extended periods of time or are not rescued at all.
EAI draws on decades of experience designing facilities that give captive-held elephants new lives of freedom and autonomy.
Using this experience, combined with the scientific knowledge gained over the last half-century about the needs of captive elephants and the experience of the two accredited US sanctuaries, EAI is creating a new sustainable, eco-friendly, natural habitat home, where elephants will not merely survive, they will thrive.
- EAI’s mission is to raise awareness of the lives of all elephants in captivity. Elephant Refuge North America will advance this mission through non-invasive, observational research and educational outreach.
- Elephant Refuge North America will change elephant culture in Asia by partnering with universities and governments to provide hands-on internships for mahouts. The participants will combine study with hands-on experience, learning science-based elephant management techniques without the use of dominance and abuse. They will return home, armed with polished skills and a new-found confidence in a compassion-based approach to elephant training and management, to teach their peers, hastening change and creating new traditions in elephant care culture.
One world…one elephant at a time.