PLATINUM2023

Elephant Sanctuary

aka The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee   |   Hohenwald, TN   |  www.elephants.com

Mission

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee exists to - provide captive elephants with individualized care, the companionship of a herd, and the opportunity to live out their lives in a safe haven dedicated to their well-being - to raise public awareness of the complex needs of elephants in captivity and the crisis facing elephants in the wild.

Ruling year info

1995

CEO

Ms. Janice Zeitlin

Main address

PO Box 393

Hohenwald, TN 38462 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

62-1587327

NTEE code info

Animal Protection and Welfare (includes Humane Societies and SPCAs) (D20)

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (D01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee works to meet the complex physical and social needs of elephants in captivity, providing individualized veterinary and husbandry care, the companionship of a herd, and the opportunity for elephants to live out their lives in a safe haven dedicated to their wellbeing. Increasing public knowledge is key to creating a world where elephants no longer live under constant threat of poaching, habitat loss, conflict, or capture. Through Distance Learning, community engagement, and The Elephant Discovery Center, The Elephant Sanctuary Staff offers educational programming that explores the crisis facing elephants and the many ways elephants shape our world.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Shelter & Care

The Elephant Sanctuary exists to provide elephants with individualized care, the companionship of a herd, and the opportunity to live out their lives in a safe haven dedicated to their well-being; and to raise public awareness of the complex needs of elephants, and the crisis facing elephants in the wild. Operating on over 3,000 acres, The Sanctuary has been home to a total of 32 elephants since 1995.

The Elephant Sanctuary’s mission is to provide elephants refuge, lifetime care, and opportunities to make choices in their day-to-day activities. As a true sanctuary, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is closed to the public. The best way to see the elephants is by live-streaming EleCams, which can be viewed on the website.

The Sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and is accredited by The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, certified by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Hundreds of thousands of people are reached annually through our website, video teleconferencing, live streaming video, social media, documentaries, and outreach. Thanks to advances in technology and recent digital upgrades to our EleCams, The Elephant Sanctuary has expanded our teleconferencing capabilities for a more interactive web-based Distance Learning Program. These virtual “visits” hosted through Skype-in-the-Classroom allow school children and community groups of all ages a behind-the-scenes view of The Elephant Sanctuary. With a network of thirteen high-definition solar-powered video cameras located throughout the habitats, students have the opportunity to observe these elephants in real-time in a natural habitat refuge.  This non-intrusive observation allows viewers to experience natural elephant behavior in a wild setting, and enables them to become familiar with the elephants, their history, their habits, and how they interact with their sanctuary surroundings. The elephants residing at The Sanctuary represent a new age of captive-elephant management; what they are teaching us is invaluable.These programs also explore the role that elephants play as "keystone species" in their native habitats and the need for wild habitat conservation.  The program is flexible and can run as long as forty-five minutes and requires little more than internet  and a wide screen projector for optimal viewing.

Additionally, The Elephant Discovery Center in Hohenwald offers hands-on self-guided exhibits and educational programming that explores the many ways elephants shape our world. After opening the Discovery Center in early 2019, we welcomed more than 2,500 people through the doors, including students on field trips, visitors to Hohenwald, and Sanctuary supporters from all over the country.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Families

Dedicated on-site volunteer days and alternative spring break projects allow individuals and groups to be directly involved in The Elephant Sanctuary's growth by completing a variety of work projects—painting fences, tending to organic fruit trees and other landscaping, creating enrichment items for the elephants, and assisting with minor construction and administrative projects both inside the 3,000 + acre Sanctuary and downtown Hohenwald in and around The Elephant Discovery Center.

Year-round, volunteer EleAmbassadors (145 individuals from 31 states and 4 Canadian provinces) donate their time, energy, and enthusiasm to raise awareness of the needs of elephants in their own communities and beyond. Provided with online training and other resources to become model spokespeople on behalf of The Elephant Sanctuary, EleAmbassadors staff exhibit booths, make presentations to local school and community groups, organize runs, host bake sales, and more!

Population(s) Served
Adults

The Elephant Sanctuary works to increase understanding of and support for conservation efforts to protect elephants in the wild and promote practices to improve the welfare of captive elephants around the globe. The Sanctuary collaborates with and supports international organizations on four continents: Africa, Europe, Asia and South America. Their programs focus on elephant-human conflict, anti-poaching, habitat preservation, field work to add to the knowledge of elephants, rescue and care in captivity and providing veterinary care.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Accreditations

Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency 1995

United States Department of Agriculture - Non-exhibit sanctuary 1995

Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries 2014

Association of Zoos and Aquariums - Certification 2017

Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries - Reaccreditation 2019

Awards

Affiliations & memberships

Chamber of Commerce

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of lessons taught

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

Education

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Distance Learning programs delivered through various digital conferencing platforms; staff/trained volunteer facilitated in-person programming both at Elephant Discovery Center and community

Number of clients participating in educational programs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

Education

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Virtual field trips, webinars, in-person education programming, and visitors to the Elephant Discovery Center museum.

Average online donation

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Employing advanced digital outreach tools, online giving programs, and multimedia campaigns, our number of online gifts has increased steadily since 2017: 7,503 in 2017; 9,717 in 2018; 14,769 in 2019

Number of new donors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Volunteer Program

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This refers to our number of on-site Volunteers representing college/university Alternative Break groups, corporate teams, and Sanctuary Members selected for service through an annual lottery system.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Strategic Plan 2020-2025 guides our work under 6 main goals:

GOAL 1: PROVIDE SANCTUARY

GOAL 2: INFLUENCE THROUGH EDUCATION

GOAL 3: CREATE & SHARE BEST PRACTICES

GOAL 4: AMPLIFY PUBLIC AWARENESS

GOAL 5: SUSTAIN THE MISSION

GOAL 6: BUILD THE BOARD & LEADERSHIP TEAM

To accomplish its 2020-2025 goals, the organization has set specific objectives including but not limited to:
- Maintain individualized care plans for the health and well-being of each resident elephant, with a commitment to Protected Contact management and 24/7 veterinary care;
- Create educational experiences for all ages that encourage connections with the species and empower individual actions to improve elephant welfare and conservation;
- Expand relationships and professional collaborations with other organizations working to protect and serve elephants globally;
- Grow and diversify the organization’s audience to include local, national, and international awareness of The Sanctuary’s mission and conservation efforts;
- Minimize non-renewable energy consumption and reduce The Sanctuary’s impact on the environment;
- Deepen donor engagement and support while continuing to generate a diverse and innovative mix of funding sources; and
- Diversify and expand the board to 9 active Directors

Whole Elephant Care at The Elephant Sanctuary is provided by a Team comprised of Director of Veterinary Care, Veterinarian, Registered Veterinary Technician, Elephant Care Manager, and full-time Caregivers. Caregiver staff undergo extensive training on elephant behavior, husbandry, and all of the aspects needed to properly care for elephants as a species but also learn to care for the specific and individual needs of the elephants that call The Elephant Sanctuary home. The Elephant Sanctuary also collaborates with national experts in the fields of behavior and medicine. The Sanctuary's Facilities Team includes Director of Facilities, Supervisor, and full-time Maintenance Staff working to maintain the physical infrastructure needed to provide elephants with shelter and care.

The Elephant Discovery Center engages with learners from all across the world through a variety of online Distance Learning programs to connect audiences with The Elephant Sanctuary’s resident elephants and their wild relatives. The Sanctuary employs full-time educators and more than 150 dedicated EleAmbassadors from around the country volunteer their time to share stories of The Sanctuary with their communities.

The Sanctuary also employs dedicated Communications and Development teams that market and fundraise for the organization, expanding and diversifying The Sanctuary's supporter base.

The Elephant Sanctuary works with professional consultants and the Center for Nonprofit Management to continually assess, evaluate and develop the people, systems and infrastructure to support the growth and mission of the organization.

Since 1995, The Elephant Sanctuary has provided home, herd, and individualized care to 28 elephants retired from zoos and circuses. The Sanctuary is currently home to 11 elephants, ranging in age from 35 to 72.

The newest member of The Sanctuary's herd, African elephant Nosey, was seized by Lawrence County Animal Control in Moulton, AL in November 2017 after concerns for her care and well-being were raised by the public. The Sanctuary was contacted to provide emergency care and Nosey arrived in Tennessee soon after.

In 2014 The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee was accredited by Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). The Elephant Sanctuary met standards for re-accreditation in 2019. As confirmed through an onsite visit by GFAS, this re-accreditation signifies The Elephant Sanctuary meets the Federation’s rigorous, peer-reviewed standards that define a true sanctuary providing humane and responsible care of animals, as well as standards around safety and security, veterinary care, and other areas of financial and organizational sustainability. Accredited status with GFAS provides a transparent, trusted means for the public, donors, and government agencies to recognize The Elephant Sanctuary as an outstanding sanctuary.

In 2017 The Elephant Sanctuary was certified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). To be certified, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee submitted a detailed application and underwent a thorough investigation and on-site inspection by a team of AZA officials to make certain it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards, which include animal care and welfare, veterinary programs, conservation, and safety. The inspecting team observed all aspects of the institution’s operation and animal care. Final approval of accreditation/certification was granted after a formal meeting of the AZA’s accreditation commission.

The Elephant Sanctuary looks forward to welcoming more elephants from North America in need of retirement. Many of The Sanctuary’s resident elephants have come to live in Hohenwald as the result of collaboration between the elephant’s owners and The Sanctuary. The Sanctuary stands ready to discuss the option of a sanctuary retirement and its benefits with owners and guardians of elephants living in captivity.

Although the elephants' habitats are closed to the public, Sanctuary elephants “visit” classrooms, homes and communities virtually through the solar-powered EleCams that allow supporters to observe, without interference, their natural behaviors. Distance Learning programs ballooned in popularity in 2019 (with 476 programs reaching more than 14,000 people in 44 states and 27 countries), and the enhanced Elephant Discovery Center in Hohenwald hosted additional visitors. Educational outreach has only expanded in 2020, when our team's established expertise in delivering virtual programming has provided meaningful learning opportunities for all ages, inspiring and empowering wildlife advocates.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time, It is difficult to identify actionable feedback

Financials

Elephant Sanctuary
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Elephant Sanctuary

Board of directors
as of 10/11/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dr. Richard Rhoda

Tennessee Higher Education Commission

Term: 2014 - 2022

William Schaffner

Preventive Medicine, Vanderbilt University

Janice Zeitlin

Community Volunteer

Richard Rhoda

Tennessee Higher Education Commission

Albert Ambrose

Community Volunteer

Sharon Langford

Community Volunteer

Michael Stagg

Attorney, WallerLaw

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 7/22/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

Transgender Identity

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/13/2019

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.