It has been a long but rewarding road for Tony Verhulst and Sophie Goetshebeur, founders of Elephant Haven, Europe’s first sanctuary for elephants. The sanctuary located in Limousin, France, will be a permanent home for many of Europe’s elephants being retired due to the growing bans on wild animals in circuses. With over one hundred circuses across Europe, this is a much-needed endeavor that will ensure these elephants are able to live out their retirement in a safe, caring, and natural environment.
Since the start of their mission, they have been able to pass the many obstacles facing an undertaking of this magnitude, including securing the land to obtaining permits. The latest step in making this dream a reality is building the proper barn enclosure. This will allow the first elephants to finally be able to call Elephant Haven home. There are certain stipulations the barn is required to have including insulation, windows and doors, ventilation and heating, a caregivers area and an inside structure for elephants. There is also a plan to include sandboxes, a corridor that can be connected to each other, and even an adjacent outdoor paddock.
Currently, there is a simple, open barn structure that will serve as the skeleton of the barn. Enough donations have also been made by supporters, businesses, and organizations to put up the first 10 acres of fencing. In order to complete Phase one of this state of the art facility, however, donations are needed as soon as possible. Elephant Haven’s initial goal is to raise 120,000 euros (around $138,930). The sooner the barn is completed the sooner elephants can start their journeys to the safety of the sanctuary.
“The elephants that will come to Elephant Haven will have a 24-hour care,” explains Sofie, “they can spend their days on nice organic farmland, bath in a natural lake or spend time in a mud pool. They will have the opportunity to choose day and night to be in the heated barn or sleep outside under the stars, but most of all, the elephants will have a place for the rest of their lives at Elephant Haven.”
This will certainly be a HUGE upgrade from the sad conditions many circus elephants endure in captivity. These majestic animals are kept in less than suitable conditions and are subjected to severe abuse and cruelties. If you would like to take part in this historical endeavor, make a donation today by clicking here.
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