Elephant Refuge North America (ERNA) is home to two elephants and can accommodate as many as ten elephants retired from zoos and circuses.
At ERNA, the needs of the elephants come first. As an elephant refuge operating under an authentic sanctuary philosophy, ERNA is not open to the general public. We do recognize the valuable learning experience of observing elephants and educate the public through the use of live streaming video cameras located throughout the habitat. These cameras enable people to watch the elephants unobtrusively, ensuring the elephants’ privacy and providing the public a window into the world of natural elephant behavior.
Located in Attapulgus, Georgia, ERNA spans 850 acres of gentle rolling hills, lush pastures, dense forests, spring-fed lakes, creeks and streams, with a climate that allows our elephants to remain outdoors 24/7 almost all the year. It is the perfect place for elephants to regain their “elephantness” and develop loving bonds with other elephants and caregivers.
Each elephant receives individualized care that takes into account past traumas and life-shaping experiences. The elephants have autonomy and the ability to choose where and with whom they spend their time. At the same time, we support them in developing the confidence and skills required to bond with other elephants, each at their own pace.
Unfortunately, because some captive-held elephants were separated from their mother and family at a very young age, they never learned how to develop close bonds with other elephants. Put another way, they lack elephant social skills.
We support these elephants in developing loving relationships with whomever they trust and feel compatible with, most often their caregivers. For these elephants, building and maintaining strong trusting relationships with their caregivers is key to their wellbeing.
For more detailed information, please read EAI Founder and CEO Carol Buckley’s paper “Adaptation/Rehabilitation of Captive-Held Elephants.”
Key milestones to prepare ERNA for elephant residents:
- We enclosed our entire 850 acres with 60,000 feet of double fence system. The 8-foot-high outer perimeter fence keeps uninvited guests out and the specially designed inner fence keeps the elephants in.
- We completed the construction of our first barn, which serves as ERNA’s central location for quarantine and observation of elephants in need of veterinary and hospice care. The barn is located in a secured one-hundred-acre habitat, where new residents will spend their first days after arrival.
- We built 15 wooden access bridges, totaling 800 running feet, to give us year-round access to the 60,000 feet of fencing that encloses ERNA.
Our current projects include:
- Reinforcing habitat fencing with additional steel pipe for increased security for our first elephant resident Bo. Learn more about Bo here!
- Building three Habitat Care Stations (HCS) in the remote locations of ERNA’s 850 acres. These stations will provide fresh water for drinking and bathing, as well as a safe space for treatment.
- Installing high speed WIFI service to expand our Elephant Cam system.
- Building an open sided shelter for Bo in the 750 acre habitat.
- Installing a solar powered well in the 750 acre habitat.
- Adding additional water troughs in the 750 acre habitat.
- Installing a back up generator for the Elephant Barn.
- Designing a new barn for the 750 acre habitat.
- Developing a manure removal system.
Team of Experts
A team of experts with unique and varied backgrounds will guide a holistic approach to care of the all elephants who call ERNA home. Our Integrative Health Team includes highly skilled and recognized experts in the fields of wild animal welfare, homeopathic veterinary medicine and traditional Chinese veterinary medicine.
Learn more about ERNA’s Integrative Health Team.