Big News! The Big Payback and a BIG Match Update

You are all amazing!!  So far you have donated $71.410.91 towards Tamy’s Tomorrows. GSE won the first $1500 bonus prize, so with the $50K match, the total right now is $122,910.91

More amazing news: our matching donor has offered another $50K match to see if we can reach our goal!! That’s $100,000! So for those of you who were waiting to give until today, you are in luck – and so is Tamy. Just 8 hours to go.

The funds from this year’s Big Payback are dedicated towards building a male elephant habitat, which may seem like just another part of sanctuary, but it is so much more. Male elephants have a special place in my heart (Kat) because of how misunderstood and how mistreated they often are in captivity. While perceptions are beginning to evolve, male elephants are often overlooked or their needs denied because many people have not educated themselves to their specific care and treatment. Males have historically been negatively labeled as killers, aggressive, and loners, when that is not necessarily their truth. In reality, their defense mechanisms have to be much stronger because of how they have been treated in captivity. Their lives are often more harsh than those of females, though their depth of emotion is just as beautiful and complex.

The males I have met would never be referred to as “good” elephants by those who have cared for them. But when you sit quietly to get a sense of them, the softness is there under the surface, as well as the hurt. Many are never given a chance to show their vulnerable side, to demonstrate they can be amazing, to share who they really are. Male elephants rarely have the opportunity to let down their guard or feel safe enough to uncover their true selves.

My heart was absolutely stolen by the male elephants we met in South America. There was one who was charmingly mischievous, with a crooked smile, and soft face. Picturing how nurtured his playful side would be at sanctuary, I was absolutely smitten. Scott joked that he had just been replaced. The other was sullen, withdrawn, looking for engagement, but not knowing how to engage humans in a healthy way. The vision of sanctuary for him was one of reconnecting with nature and the version of himself he lost many decades ago. Witnessing them both at once was a perfect demonstration of the spectrum of individuality in elephants. Like humans, each elephant has a complicated inner life, unique experiences, and perhaps personal trauma that needs to be faced. You have seen that sanctuary provides elephants with many forms of healing and helps them to find their own freedom and move forward.

Please consider opening your heart to the true spirit of male elephants and creating a new life for them. Together we can help the world to see past their tough exterior to the loving soul within.


  1. REPLY
    Kenneth B. Newman says

    With the excellent fundraising that GSE has done this week, I do hope that the staff do start digging those 250 plus post holes so the posts can be placed for Tamy and other male elephant’s habitat………Does the barn have to be built first? Do Brazilian animal sanctuary laws say that the barn has to be built first, followed by at least 2 separate corrals?

    I do hope that Tamy will be able to interact thru the fence with Pocha and Guillermina……. these two pacaderms ? should hopefully be arriving by June 1st?

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      It’s a complicated process. This fundraiser is going to help us buy the steel necessary for the fences – and the cost of steel is skyrocketing. As you know, there are MANY steps that go on behind the scenes of a rescue without the complications of Covid and the unique challenges of training a bonded mother and daughter. It’s best for us not to impose our human timelines onto their wellbeing, even though we all want them to be here soon. Just know that we want them here as badly as you do and are doing everything we can to make it happen. One very important step at a time.

  2. REPLY
    Beji says

    So cool. I hope my modest donation helped. Lots of fruit loops for Tamy boy!

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you! Your donation means more than you know – as does your support.

  3. REPLY
    Sue says

    Such a beautiful and heartfelt post. I pray we get enough donations to take advantage of the generous donor’s matching amount so that a home for Tami can be completed. I can’t express how much I appreciate all that everyone does at Sanctuary, and how much I appreciate all of you. ❤️?❤️

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      None of this would happen without what supporters like you bring to the lives of our sanctuary residents.

  4. REPLY
    Julie says

    So happy for you. I wish I could give more, but I know the elephant community has very large hearts and will come through on this one too! Please keep us updated throughout the day!

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Everything you give is so meaningful to us. Of course, every dollar helps, but your support and advocacy for elephants helps us all – especially the sanctuary residents. Thank you for sharing with us.

  5. REPLY
    Joy says

    I teared up reading this. Renewed my efforts. Will send more! I can hardly wait for the days they arrive at GSE. I should take a couple of days off work to watch.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you – we can hardly wait, either. We still have a journey ahead of us, but when the day finally comes there will be celebrating around the world!

  6. REPLY
    Katie Howard says

    I KNEW you would smash that goal! Another match! I wish I was made of money – well, not really – that would be ick! Like so many others, I gave what I could this time, but that’s the beauty of crowd fundraising. It doesn’t take a lot of money – it takes a lot of people who care!
    So happy for this progress. Your post is just plain beautiful. Thank you ❤️?❤️

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      YOU and all of our supporters are beautiful. It’s moments like this when we realize what a special community that surrounds us. Thank you for being such a valuable part of it.

  7. REPLY
    Alana says

    What a wonderful & generous GSB family of donors. One last push, please call, email, tweet, text, get a hold of everyone you know to push this fund raiser over the top. I know we can do this & I bet Tamy is feeling the Love.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Thank you for supporting us in all the ways you do. Every time someone shares the importance of sanctuary, we move one step closer to saving another life.

  8. REPLY
    Charlotte Hansen says

    Thank you for this explanation of the males for those of us who have never met one, but wish we could! I so wish I could give much, much more for Tamy’s sanctuary.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Every bit given is so meaningful. A good word, a social media or blog share, keeping us in your thoughts – all of that keeps us going. We look forward to getting to know Tamy better and sharing his journey with you.

  9. REPLY
    Rachel says

    I’m back home and as promised, jumped in and joined the others here who gave financially, but reading the psychological support for GSE Brazil’s staff and the sharing of enthusiastic love for the elephants at both sanctuaries really lifts my spirit. I also clicked on the link you had for Elephant Voices and spent some time reading about their work and dedication to the conservation of wild elephants. I’m now a follower on their IG and Twitter accounts. I can’t thank you enough for doing what you do GSE, and that goes to everyone who supports you one way or another. There are plenty of good humans out there and today is a wonderful example of that. Cheers to everyone ?

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      We are so glad you are on our team. Without supporters like you, we couldn’t exist. The more people understand how life-changing sanctuary can be, the more elephants will find freedom.

  10. REPLY
    Angela Jackson says

    while Tamy can’t have tangible toys that could be thrown back, am wondering ifhave any experiments have been or could be done with intangible experiences e.g. by way of music, recorded sound effects, fragrance/smell diffusions, flowers?

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      Since we will be introducing him to a real natural habitat for the first time in years, it’s usually better to keep artificial elements out of the experience. Once his training begins, things will improve for him significantly.

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