Tennessee is known as a place to hear great music. There's a history of folk and country music in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee, Nashville is the home of the country music industry, and Memphis is the place for blues. But if you get off of the interstate and wander the back roads southwest of Nashville, you may hear something special. If you're lucky and the wind is just right, the sound of trumpeting may come your way. Is it jazz or a marching band? No, it's music made by some very happy elephants!
Elephants? In Tennessee? Yes, they are the lucky residents of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. A haven for old, sick or needy elephants, it is the home to both Asian and African elephants who have been retired from zoos and circuses. The nineteen residents, all female, have free range on 2700 acres of old growth forests, pastures and spring fed ponds. There are heated barns where they can come and go as they please. It's like a great resort for them. No matter where the elephants wander on the grounds, the caregivers bring food and medical treatments to them several times a day.
Getting back to cellphones, the staff uses them to stay in contact everywhere in the sanctuary. Hauling food out to each elephant three times a day, providing fresh drinking water and administering foot soaks and other necessary treatments are just some of the duties in the field. Back at the barns, the stalls need to be cleaned and pressure washed every day, and there are always new construction projects and maintenance to be done on the fences, equipment, buildings and grounds. The daily activities take a toll on their cell phones. They can get banged around, dropped and dunked into foot baths, mud puddles or worse.
This is where you come in. The Elephant Sanctuary is a non-profit organization, licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. They receive no state or federal funds, and they rely entirely on public contributions, member support and in-kind contributions. If you have a spare Verizon compatible cellphone from 2005 or newer, please donate it to the staff. Phones need to be in good working condition, and matching chargers are also appreciated. Come to the Wish List for more information and the address to send your phone.
How much does it cost the sanctuary to take care of their elephants? It takes about $1,000 for food, dietary supplements and regular veterinary care for each elephant, each month. With nineteen elephants in residence, that's more than a quarter of a million dollars per year, not counting staff salaries and operating costs for the facilities. Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated.