Monsoon Season is Over – September E-Newsletter

There are more than one hundred elephants awaiting pedicures in India and Nepal. Wow — I can hardly catch my breath at the thought of it!

This is my passion these days — foot trimming. The joy of being at the ground level, literally, of elephant welfare, is thrilling. I know we cannot fix all the problems facing captive elephants in Asia, but foot care is a very immediate and concrete way to improve their lives.

India: Care center plans

I will be in India through October, visiting with colleagues about prospective care center projects (and, of course, trimming elephant feet!). The care center project in Bannerghatta stalled due to property ownership issues and lack of government clearance. Disappointing as it is, we have decided to cancel the Bannerghatta care center project and concentrate on other more promising locations.

This will be my third visit to Guwahati, in India’s north. It is stunningly beautiful elephant country. Unlike my last visit, which was a six-hour whirlwind blur, I will spend several days studying the area proposed for a new care center. I also plan to meet with the chief warden of Assam about a proposed care center in his state.

This will be my second meeting with the warden. My colleague from the Assam Elephant Foundation and I are encouraged by the interest he has shown in this project. In fact, it was the warden’s idea and it is only with his endorsement that the project can move forward.

The last time we met, the warden committed an area of land to the proposed center and agreed to permit the residents of our center to have access to the surrounding forest. This is an exciting start. I will keep you posted as we proceed.

I will make a repeat visit to Wildlife SOS-India, outside New Delhi. This time I will have the opportunity to provide pedicures for all the elephants before heading off to see their new project, a four hundred-acre elephant rescue center under construction in Mathura. I have heard so much about this project—I can’t wait to see it.

Nepal: Pedicures, chain-free yards, waste disposal and retirement center

When I arrive in Nepal in November, I will have my work cut out for me: pedicures for more than one hundred elephants; we hope the construction of several more chain-free yards; development of environmentally sound elephant waste disposal practices; and brainstorming on plans for an elephant retirement center in Sauraha. What a productive time this will be!

Our first candidates for a chain-free yard are Man Kali and her two-month-old baby Hem Gaj. Currently, Man Kali is chained but little Hem Gaj is chain-free, kept with his mom in a wooden corral built by the mahouts.

But the wooden corral won’t hold him in for long!

After watching how Sweetie Kali blossomed in her chain-free yard, the mahouts want the same for her baby brother. They are determined that Hem Gaj will not be put on chains and have asked us to build a yard for him and his mother.

Help us build a yard for Man Kali and Hem Gaj!

Enclosing one acre of land with the power fence required to keep captive elephants in and wild elephants out, costs close to $4,000US. Adding water storage tanks, plumbing and a drinking trough, adds another $2,000US.

Help us remove the heavy chains from Man Kali’s legs and ensure that baby Hem Gaj will never feel the pain of cold steel around his ankles.

Just say yes! I want to contribute $10 / $25 / $50 / $75 / $100 / or other $_____ to build a one-acre, chain-free yard for Man Kali and her two-month old baby, Hem Gaj.

If you prefer to donate by check, please make your check payable to Elephant Aid International and send it to:

Elephant Aid International

P.O. Box 106

Hohenwald, TN 38462


As you might expect, we won’t stop there. As the funds are raised, we will build more yards for more elephants.

We are making great progress in Nepal. The mahouts welcome my return and are engaged in the changes we are making. They have embraced the chain-free yard concept, are excelling at pedicures and want to learn more humane ways of working with their elephants. The future of elephant welfare in Nepal is in their hands.

You make it possible

We have made it this far because we believe in the power of one. Each one of you makes it possible to help one elephant, then another and another.

As I head off to the Far East once again, I am eternally grateful for your continuing support and encouragement. Knowing that you are behind me one hundred percent gives me the determination to forge ahead, helping one elephant at a time, then another and another. It’s working and it’s all thanks to you!

Please follow the progress of our work on my blog and thank you, as always, for your support.



Asia calls

The annual monsoon season is nearly over. Asia is calling me back, once again.

These weeks home have flown by, filled with taking care of business and preparing for my return to Asia. This coming trip will be my fourth in two-and-a-half years.

Looking back over my work in Asia has given me a clearer perspective. Each visit built upon the one before, resulting in a firm foundation for elephant welfare programs.

At first I had no idea what I could accomplish, so I just went and investigated. The search led to discoveries, which resulted in an avalanche of ideas.

Filtering through all the possibilities, I decided to hone in on areas where I felt most confident. Providing services in a foreign country is challenging enough.

Doing what I know best has proven to be a wise decision. This is where the mantra “One world, one elephant at a time” got its foothold.

The idea of trying to save an entire world of suffering elephants is overwhelming, but helping one needy elephant at a time feels doable. The idea actually calms me. I know that we can help one and then another and then another after that.

The Sanctuary: one elephant at a time

With Tarra as my inspiration, this is exactly how  the Sanctuary began. My initial goal was to create a safe and healthy place for her to live out  her life, away from zoo and circus.

With Tarra safely in her sanctuary home, our focus turned to rescuing six solitary female Asian elephants living in zoos and circuses. And we did it—one elephant at a time.

First came Barbara,

an ex-circus elephant living alone in a Florida backyard.

Then came Jenny,

living alone in a dilapidated dog and cat shelter outside Las Vegas.

After Jenny was Shirley,

rescued from a solitary life at the Louisiana Purchase Garden and Zoo

then Bunny, darling of the Mesker Park Zoo

Sissy, from the El Paso Zoo

who had lived alone for two decades at the Frank Buck Zoo

and Tina, born at the Portland, Oregon zoo

living alone at the Vancouver Wild Animal Park.

All were elephants who had lived alone for decades. Each was rescued because we believed that we could help, one elephant at a time.

Starting again

Now I feel we have come full circle, back to the starting point. A huge challenge lies ahead of us with so many elephants in need. But instead of being overwhelmed, experience has taught me that focusing on one needy elephant at a time is doable. I know that we can help one and then another and then another after that.

As always, I will let Tarra inspire and guide me.

With that vision of possibility firmly planted in my mind, I understand how we now find ourselves—a short two-and-a-half years later after I first went to Asia—experiencing such fabulous results.

Focusing our efforts on our strengths has been incredibly well received by our colleagues in Asia. Working together has been the key. Together we are improving elephant welfare with foot care, mahout training, chain-free yards and our continuing efforts to develop elephant care centers and retirement homes.

The ideas for these projects were planted like so many tiny seeds and now they are growing like weeds. I need to get back to Asia and continue where we left off.

I am thrilled to announce that in my absence, requests have come for expansion of our programs. Yes, they want more chain-free yards, more pedicures, more mahout training and retirement centers for aging elephants. I am so excited about how our elephant welfare programs have caught on! The future is indeed bright.

Preparing For Pedicures

On my last visit to Nepal, 84 elephants received pedicures. The goal for my next visit is 100 elephants–400 feet! With that goal in mind I need to restock our foot trimming tools! Using disposable trimming blades ensures trimming accuracy and the highest level of hygiene; one package of two blades services one elephant. The easy-to-grip handles are perfect for precision but they wear out after a dozen or so elephants. The heavy duty farrier rasps are perfect for the job and the mahouts like this tool, but the rasp becomes dull after a short time.

I hope you will join in the excitement and help us purchase trimming blades, handles and nail filing rasps. I have posted a chipin to meet our goal of foot trimming supplies for 100 elephants. If you prefer to purchase the pedicure tools separately, please visit the EAI wish list

To paraphrase a popular saying, helping one elephant won’t change the world. But helping one elephant will change the world for that elephant. This next trip to Asia promises to be incredibly beneficial for many more elephants, thanks to your continued support.

A HUGE THANK YOU to all who donated to the Foot Trimming Tools ChipIn. We reached our goal, in record time, all thanks to you!