Weekly Update: Current donation total is now at $858,945.00

captureThe current donation total is now at $858,945.00. From the bottom of our hearts, we deeply appreciate your support in our efforts to help provide a better environment for elephants. We want to acknowledge the kindness every individual who donates and likes, comments or shares our posts. You are all contributing to the cause. Thank you. Donate today:http://www.elephantaidinternational.org/support/

14713070_1290567650973593_3888856378838742979_oElephants in Asia compete with humans for nearly all resources, including bamboo, a staple of the Asian elephant diet and traditional building material for humans. As long as humans see their needs as more deserving, elephants will continue to suffer. We must continue our efforts by educating the mahouts and providing chain-free corrals for captive-held elephants.

14715661_1293375797359445_6945717541295315919_oShree (a mahout trained using EAI’s Compassionate Elephant Care) shows fellow mahout a more humane, more effective way to work around Samrat Gaj, a 4-month old captive-born elephant in Nepal. The mahout student is delighted by the results.

14714836_1293522757344749_3029055320299766199_oThis newborn calf, only hours old, suckles from his mother — aided by a mahout learning new ways of relating to elephants. Compassionate Elephant Care, an EAI program being taught to all mahouts at government owned hattisars (elephant stables) in Nepal, is changing how mahouts manage their elephants.

chitwan1Change starts with one person, who can inspire a whole group, who can go on to inspire the entire world. For elephants, chain free means pain free. By supporting the mahouts who care for impoverished elephants, the welfare of both is improved. Show the mahouts that you recognize their value. Support their transition from archaic to humane.

14692053_1295359530494405_4158283269240433179_o“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.” – Charles Darwin

14711625_1295361663827525_8717717484992416154_oDid you know: Elephants take “dust baths” — as seen in the picture below — to protect their sensitive skin from sunburn and biting insects

14712991_1296262603737431_6131236874564709140_oThe ERNA closing date has been pushed to December 15th, so now we stand at 57 days until closing! To help raise funds for the elephant paradise, donate today at: elephantaidinternational.org/support.

Weekly Update: TripAdvisor no longer makes money off of animal suffering

11tripadvisor-animals-master768Making steady progress for animal welfare. TripAdvisor no longer makes money off of animal suffering.  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/11/travel/tripadvisor-to-stop-selling-tickets-to-many-animal-attractions.html?emc=edit_tnt_20161011&nlid=17663786&tntemail0=y&_r=1

14615856_1286567708040254_7526071632518963441_oThe progress in Nepal is driven by the mahouts’ willingness to learn how to provide better care for captive elephants.

14566427_1286789894684702_1653308219345432894_oFoot disease is epidemic among elephants living in captive environments. Captivity-induced foot diseases among these long-lived beings can lead to physical collapse and death. Proper elephant foot care is vital for elephant health.

14650303_1287513497945675_8147598989740765811_nIf we want a future of compassion toward elephants, we must teach our children to care for all creatures.

14707902_1288403497856675_4883728828528651954_o28 DAYS UNTIL CLOSING! Only four weeks remain until the finalization of the ERNA land sale, and the elephants still need your help. Even the smallest contribution allows you to personally support the elephants in need of an environment to thrive. Donate today:elephantaidinternational.org/support

14724476_1289593234404368_7665143081699443228_nAnother incredible picture of a sweet elephant from Nepal.

Weekly Update: The Nepali Times covered the changes at Tiger Tops Elephant Camp

d1w5kgeThe Nepali Times covered the changes at Tiger Tops Elephant Camp in Nepal. This is the wave of the future; elephants no longer used as entertainers, but the object of wildlife observation.

eai1Tiger Tops Elephant Camp is gaining media attention for its elephant-friendly tourism. Now, the elephants living at the resort are ride free, chain free and pain free.

14462994_1280461288650896_5640693018084859505_nNature Defense Foundation recently provided a significant grant towards EAI’s Elephant Refuge North America. This past Friday they hosted a “Meet and Greet” with EAI Founder Carol Buckley, for California Bay Area Foundations. The event was well attended by sincerely motivated individuals interested in elephant welfare. A huge thank you goes to all who attended and to Sarah Shaw of Nature Defense Foundation for hosting the event. If you would like to host an event for Foundations and others interested in supporting ERNA, please contact us.

elephant-adventure-3Another great write up for Tiger Tops Elephant Camp in Nepal, the first resort to go chain-free and discontinue using elephants for elephant back safaris. Instead they have partnered with EAI’s CEO Carol Buckley to create an elephant-friendly experience unlike any other, full of adventure and respect for elephants.

14469581_1282843808412644_6220498687450535139_n34 DAYS UNTIL CLOSING! The sale of the ERNA land will finalize on November 9th. The elephants still need you. Donate today to help these incredible beings thrive in a beautiful environment.

14484765_1282483931781965_9042817408079457784_nEveryone had fun and learned a lot at Tiger Tops Elephant Camp Foot Care Workshops!



  • The Wildlife Crime Unit in Nepal is recognized for their work to prevent wildlife trafficking.
  • Captive elephants in Asia suffer the worst foot health issues, both painful and permanent. This sweet lady suffered from such overgrown nails that her front toenail actually ripped away from her foot causing permanent damage to the connective tissue. She is now permanently crippled by the captivity induced injury.

Weekly Update: Chain Free Means Pain Free

chain-free-means-pain-free-just-look-at-this-happy-loving-familyChain free means pain free — just look at this happy, loving family.

14457423_1273834982646860_4444314854104071146_n“Man’s highest duty is to protect animals from cruelty.” — Emile Zola

captureThe ERNA land will provide elephants with autonomy in a natural, lush habitat filled with lakes, wooded areas and open pastures. Join us in helping these incredible animals thrive by donating today. Thank you for your continued support.

14481724_1275431695820522_7044993152666362946_o42 DAYS UNTIL CLOSING! Elephant dreams inch closer to becoming a reality as the ERNA land sale nears its finalization. Show your support today by visiting: elephantaidinternational.org/support

14519682_1275486852481673_8914519054289975268_nHow often are you able to dedicate your time to a cause that is important to you, such as elephant conservation?

14520579_1276901649006860_3795582997678227290_nThe word is getting out about EAI’s elephant foot trimming in Nepal. Private owners are requesting that their elephants receive foot trims whenever EAI staff are in the country. As part of our recent Foot Care Workshop, participants trimmed the feet of eleven Tiger Tops elephants and three elephants from Machan Wildlife Resort, a neighbouring resort. Ful Kali, one of Machan’s elephants, had overgrown and cracked nails. Even though this was her first pedicure, Ful Kali relaxed into it immediately, allowing Kevyn and Gigi to gain some serious foot trimming experience!

September 30, 2016 | Posted in: Weekly Update | Comments Closed

Weekly Update: The first workshop was a complete success!


The first workshop was a complete success, raising consciousness about the plight of captive-held elephants and training an enthusiastic group of elephant lovers in the art of foot trimming. The second workshop begins today.

A few days ago a surprise excursion took us to one of the remote hattisars (elephant stables) inside the Buffer Zone forest adjacent to Chitwan National Park. The group was treated to a sample of the remote chain-free corrals EAI built in 2014, one of 31 corrals built for government-owned anti-poaching patrol elephants in Chitwan National Park. Shankar Prasad is a large male who lives chain free without incident in the solar powered corral even though he could easy dismantle the fencing with his ivory which does not conduct electricity.
The mahouts in all of the locations we work have exceeded our expectations. They are interested, engaged and are excited to show the progress they have made with their elephants. Sundar Mala’s new mahout shows off his skill teaching her how to put her foot up on a stump for foot trimming.
During his musth season a male elephant covers tens of miles daily searching out receptive females and socializing with his offspring in many different herds.
Did You Know? Baby female elephants remain with their mother their entire life. The male calves are driven from the herd around age ten.
David Clark, a filmmaker with National Geographic, is currently at Tiger Tops Elephant Camp in Nepal documenting Carol’s work.
September 23, 2016 | Posted in: Weekly Update | Comments Closed

Weekly Update: Tiger Tops Elephant Camp is proving to be an amazing experience for all

3When teacher and student connect, the elephants benefit! EAI’s Elephant Foot Care Workshop at Tiger Tops Elephant Camp is proving to be an amazing experience for all

Herds of wild elephants grazing peacefully in the vast grasslands of India.

57 DAYS UNTIL CLOSING! The ERNA land and the surrounding climate are tailor-made for elephants, ensuring that each elephant who calls ERNA home will thrive.

Researchers have found that elephants are highly intelligent and capable of many human-like emotions, such as happiness, sorrow and even empathy.

Beautiful Jon taking a refreshing dip in the water.

“The pure joy an elephant exhibits when given a resemblance of freedom is what drives me to do more.” – Carol Buckley bit.ly/2cpBFhX


September 16, 2016 | Posted in: Weekly Update | Comments Closed

Weekly Update: Terra Mater Magazine Covers Carol’s Work in Nepal

Earlier this year, Terra Mater Magazine, Austria’s equivalent to National Geographic, sent a writer and photographer to cover Carol’s work in Nepal. Here is a link to the English translation.eai1Many of the elephants used for elephant back safaris suffer from severe nail splits.

eai2Carol and a team of volunteers began EAI’s bi-annual foot trimming in Sauraha this morning. The mahouts’ trimming skill level is measurably improved.

eai3As of yesterday, the Elephant Refuge North America (ERNA) fundraising total is at $871,565.39. Your donations will help make this elephant paradise a reality!

eai4Carol visiting with her Nepali family in Sauraha. From left to right: nanu (a term of endearment for a little girl), Shanti, Raju, Carol and Paspat (who is the elephant supervisor of National Trust for Nature Conservation).

eai5Carol boarding the plane from Kathmandu to Bharatpur on the way to foot trimming in Chitwan.

eai-6“Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing.” — John Donne. But in todays world, in response to the stress humans place on elephants in the wild and in captivity, elephants act out in ways contrary to their majestic nature.

eaiThe Elephant Refuge North America (ERNA) land is an elephant paradise, featuring 850 acres of pastures, lakes, and forests.



  • Over the last 6 years, EAI has freed 106 captive-held elephants from chains in Nepal, Thailand and India.
  • Did You Know: EAI designed and built the first solar powered chain-free corral in Asia?


Weekly Update: The Escrow Contract is Signed


 The Escrow Contract is signed! 75 days until closing. ERNA will build on what has come before, providing additional options for elephant rescues and retirement. Please participate in this grass roots project to create the next generation of elephant sanctuaries.

Did you know: There are over 300,000 muscles in an elephant’s trunk. Elephants’ strong trunks help them navigate through life, aiding in the ability to eat, bathe and protect themselves.

This magnificent beauty is happy to be bathing chain-free.

Did you know: Elephants gestate for 22 months before birth.


“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” — Anatole France

In Memory of Hanako

When I met Hanako less than two months ago, it was obvious to me that she was nearing the end of her life.

Hanako had spent close to seven decades in one of the most deprived environments I’ve seen.

Every surface in her barn and yard was covered with unyielding, moisture-robbing, highly abrasive concrete. There was not a blade of grass, a tree or a patch of dirt anywhere in the small space.

While at the zoo I learned that Hanako had recently stopped lying down to sleep. Instead of spending several hours each night on her side sleeping, she spent a lesser amount of time leaning against the barn wall, dozing.

After studying her records it was clear that Hanako’s appetite and drinking habits had also changed. The times when she would refuse to eat grew more and more frequent.

Hanako also refused to use her outside pool or allow her keepers to bathe her. As result her skin was dehydrated and her legs were stained with urine.

The staff could not account for these changes in Hanako’s behavior. But such changes are to be expected of an elephant of Hanako’s age.

It was heartbreaking to observe that her eyesight was failing, she shivered continually and she was physically inactive.

Each morning, until at least a month before her death, Hanako would walk the few feet from the barn to the outside concrete yard. There she would stand and engage in stereotypical behavior for hours before taking the few labored steps back inside her barn at the end of the day.

My first afternoon at the zoo I witnessed a change in Hanako’s behavior. Without any obvious provocation she seemed to startle from her catatonic state and began moving around her small yard.

Then the barn door opened and she became vocal and animated. She approached the door, placed her foot in the track and engaged in the most bizarre stereotypic routine I’d ever seen.  She pushed her toe into the track, pulled back as if her foot was caught in it, removed her foot and then repeated the sequence twelve times. Keepers later told me she did this stereotypical sequence every time before she entered the barn. Not always twelve times—sometimes more, sometimes less.

After completing her stereotypic ritual, Hanako rushed into the barn, moving with an uncharacteristic urgency as if someone was trying to keep her from entering. Her eyes lit up and she became very vocal.

I assumed she was excited about the pile of fresh vegetables and grass on the floor. But it was not the food. It was her keepers she was focused on.

Hanako was obviously excited to see her keepers and anxious for them to pet her. She offered her foot through the steel bars that divided the elephant and keeper spaces, leaned up against the bars and turned to receive pets on her backside and hip.

She chattered to her keepers the entire time, soliciting and savoring their every touch. This was a side of Hanako I had not seen—her comfort with and attachment to her keepers.

The keepers appeared to enjoy the interaction as well. But fifteen minutes later, Hanako’s allocated social time was over. As the keepers turned their attention to barn duties, I watched as Hanako slipped back into her detached state of mind.

The thermostat was set, water barrel checked, food swept into a neat pile, lights turned off, doors closed and keepers gone again until tomorrow. Once again Hanako was alone.

Failed by the system

Hanako was denied a natural life of freedom with her natal family simply because humans are intrigued by this species. But humans failed her time and time again.

Even if they wanted to, the zoo staff was unable to evaluate Hanako’s health scientifically. Hanako and her keepers weren’t trained to carry out basic health checks and her antiquated facilities did not provide a safe environment for medical testing or treatment. Aside from tranquilizing Hanako, there was no safe way to compile a comprehensive medical work up.

The government owns and runs all the zoos in Japan. The keepers are rotated throughout the zoo system, transferred to a different zoo every two years. Knowing the social complexity of elephants, having keepers rotate in and out of Hanako’s life so often would have been stressful, even traumatic.

Decades ago Hanako had an extremely close relationship with one of her keepers. After he died she reportedly became aggressive and as result was kept chained for a length of time.

It is reasonable to assume that Hanako suffered both physically and psychologically from her lack of companionship and physical activity. In Hanako’s case, her social isolation was the most detrimental. But the damage inflicted on her by her isolation was never measured.

Taking comfort in the familiar

Hanako had a decades-long reputation of reacting negatively to changes in her facility and routine. As she aged, her tendency to be inflexible increased.

Weeks before Hankako died, the zoo installed a safety fence on the outside wall of her barn. Their hope was that by providing a secure outside space, the keepers and Hanako would spend more quality time together, something we all agreed would benefit her. Although the fence was not one of my recommendations, I completely understood why the zoo made the effort.

Unfortunately, directly following fence construction, Hanako refused to leave her barn. Since the construction was the most obvious change in Hanako’s life, it was blamed for her behavior.

In her tender psychological state Hanako might have been frightened and even traumatized by the noisy power tools drilling into the wall of her barn. The noise and vibrations most certainly could be heard and felt by Hanako, locked inside. Although it is reasonable to believe she was upset by the construction, another scenario should also be considered.

Hanako was dying, growing weaker day by day. Apparently she derived comfort from being inside her barn. She could conserve energy she would otherwise have wasted walking out to a barren yard that provided neither shade nor shelter from the cold. In her condition, the barn was likely the most comfortable place for her.

Too late for Hanako but not for other elephants

The zoo said that a necropsy will be conducted. The results will most likely point to death by natural causes. It is true that Hanako’s body condition was good for an elephant of her age, but there is no way to determine what her emotional and psychological condition were.

Against all odds, Hanako lived to the ripe old age of 69. Surprisingly, she was not emaciated or crippled and did not develop osteomyelitis or the pressure wounds that are so common among elephants kept on concrete. But even though her body served her well, captivity took its toll on her heart and mind.

Hanako’s celebrity increased near the end of her life as she became the focus of a worldwide effort to move her. It’s unfortunate her deprived existence didn’t come to light five years ago, ten years ago or even two decades ago, when she could have benefited from being moved.

But, although Hanako did not benefit personally from her celebrity, other elephants will.

Immediately after Hanako’s death the zoo announced the good news that it will not replace her with another elephant.

The truth is that Hanako is irreplaceable.



Nature At Her Finest

Sitting on my deck one late afternoon overlooking the gently flowing Buffalo River, I settled into the calm of nature listening to the many birds whose voices filled the air.

One particular bird, a cardinal, was acting in an unusual manner, hopping from branch to branch, about eye level. His sharp high-pitched chirp seemed to be directed at me.

I looked around and realized what she was upset about. There on my deck, not 5 feet from me, was a baby bird. Not quite a fledgling, obviously out of the nest too early. Instantly I understood her behavior: a dad concerned for his baby.

After moving out of the way so mom could guide her chick to safety, progress was seriously slow. The chick was so young, so weak, not capable of the feat required of her.

After urgent encouragement from mom, the chick flew a couple of feet. Just when I was sure she would plummet into the river below, she reached out her spindly leg and grabbed a twig and righted herself but could not be urged to make another attempt at flight.

All the while her father darted to her, then flew off again to a branch not too far away, calling in that high-pitched plea. But the chick was done for the day; she would not move.

Dad flew off and there was only silence. I was saddened to think that the mother had abandoned his chick. I rationalized that he probably realized the chick would not survive the night. But to my surprise Dad returned minutes later, and several more times over the next 15 minutes, bringing his baby food, which the chick ate ravenously.

The sun set, the birds quieted and I went to bed sad, convinced the baby bird would die overnight.

When I woke to that familiar high-pitched chirp, I assumed it was another fearless father caring for another chick in peril. But my heart nearly burst and tears streamed down my face when I saw the same little chick hanging on for dear life in the exact same place as last night.

Dad was darting back and forth trying to get the chick to follow him to a safer place, away from the water. The chick made two gallant attempts at flight, managing to put a few feet between her and the river below.

Dad rewarded her with another feeding frenzy. I was encouraged and amazed by their tenacity, determination and grit.

Throughout the day, the silence would be broken by Dad calling his baby closer and closer to safety. I tracked them, staying my distance so as not to interfere. The chick spent another night away from her nest, but by day three she was back under the safe wing of her mother.

By now she is probably fully fledged and gone from the nest, soaring and learning the lessons she will need next year when she raises her own chicks.

I felt honoured to be witness to the scene as it unfolded. This mother bird did everything possible to ensure the safety and survival of her chick. You can call it maternal instinct, survival instinct or just natural behavior, but I call it love.

May 22, 2016 | Posted in: General | Comments Closed