The Born Free Foundation is planning to open the first elephant sanctuary in Europe, and they need our help to make it a reality.
After years of campaigning against animal circuses and zoos, the BFF is undertaking their biggest ever project to be able to take those lucky enough to be rescued to a proper sanctuary where they can live out the rest of their lives happy and in peace.
“We want to build a sanctuary. We want to build vast refuge and give these elephants a proper home. Where lonely, abused elephants can receive expert care for the rest of their lives. Where they can recover, physically and emotionally, amidst rolling acres of pastures and forests. Where they can at last have the company of their own kind that they crave.”
According to BFF, there’s about 40 zoos and circuses across Europe which have elephants living on their own in misery. Italy alone has 50 elephants currently being kept in appalling conditions.
“Circuses routinely cause distress and suffering,” BFF explains. “Since Born Free began in 1984, our wildlife charity has campaigned to stop this antiquated ‘entertainment’ Manipulated for our amusement, circus elephants can lead horrific lives. Welfare is severely compromised, makeshift housing is cramped, bare and rudimentary.
“Elephants endure constant travel, relentlessly dragged around the country in the back of a lorry. Shackled by their legs at night. At risk of being kicked and beaten, or abused with hooks and chains. Cruelly trained and forced to perform unnatural tricks, putting strain on their joints and causing long-term health problems. Just so audiences can be ‘entertained’.”
The project will consist of 2 phases: first one is to develop an emergency elephant rescue facility at Semproniano in Tuscany where the animals will receive immediate and temporary care; and the second one is to create a giant sanctuary for the elephants to actually live in.
The new sanctuary will consist of many acres of pastures and woodland where the elephants will be able to roam free for the first time in years, rehabilitate from so many years of trauma, make new friends and live out the rest of their lives happily and in peace. They will also have a pond to swim in with their new friends! All this will be created in an ideal Mediterranean climate and, according to experts working with the BFF, a land that is suitable for olive production is perfect for elephants.
BFF has assembled a team of professionals to carry out the project. They will be joined by former Head of Wildlife at the RSPCA elephant specialist Dr Rob Atkinson, Dr John Knight with decades of experience in treating captive wild animals and founder of PAWS Elephant Sanctuary in California Ed Stewart.
Before any of this can happen, BFF will need all the financial help they can get. To begin with, buildings need to be repaired/built and the entire area needs to be fenced.
“We want to fight to save these elephants. But until we have a sanctuary we simply cannot try to help them. It is time to do everything we can to give these individuals a proper home and care for life.”
“We need you – our members, our donors, our adopters, our fundraisers, our business friends and our sponsors – to put your hands in the air and say ‘I care enough about elephants to help MAKE THIS HAPPEN’. Please, reach into your heart, then reach into your pocket.
“Together we can make this dream for captive elephants a reality.”
All images by Born Free Foundation