In the spirit of The Elephant Charter, and global recognition of the need for elephant sanctuary, ElephantVoices has developed a short document describing our perspective on "sanctuary" for elephants, and the overall principles we believe such sanctuary must be based upon. You can read and download Sanctuary for Elephants - Overall Principles, on this page.
Although elephants are highly adaptable to a broad range of conditions in the wild, they are ill-adapted to captivity. Research into wild elephant biology has revealed the true range of elephant capabilities and the normal physical and social conditions in which elephants thrive. These conditions are rarely, if ever, met in traditional forms of captivity. While animal welfare is increasingly configured in terms of "5 Freedoms", for captive elephants two of them - freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from fear and distress - are particularly problematic.
Elephants have been held in captivity for various purposes for thousands of years. They are seen by many as a natural resource to be exploited to meet human needs. Elephants are put to work in forestry enterprises, religious institutions, tourism, circuses and zoos, and serve as subjects for captive propagation programs. The failure to meet the physical, social and cognitive interests of elephants in captivity, is manifest.
ElephantVoices is frequently engaged with people and organisations wanting to provide rescue and sanctuary for elephants, as it relates to our mission and to the principles of The Elephant Charter, of which we are authors and signatories. The Sanctuary for Elephants document is meant to be of help to anyone involved in such discussions, where ever they may take place.