20 years ago on March 3, 1995 one very lucky elephant stepped foot onto the first expansive natural habitat elephant sanctuary. It was a day that started a transformation that no one could have anticipated.
It all started with an idea to give back, to create a space where solitary elephants, those deemed antisocial, aggressive or too old to perform could come to spend the rest of their lives how they wanted.
What has come from this small desire is immeasurable. Our eyes, our minds and our hearts were opened to a new elephant, one we had never seen the true depths of. Not just one elephant, but every elephant that stepped onto sanctuary earth changed and shifted. We have said they became new elephants, while in fact the opposite happened. For the first time since taken from their families, they connected to a wisdom that can only be passed through many generations. The elephants became ancient, sharing an understanding and knowledge of life, they rediscovered themselves.
These amazing elephants were given a second chance, and with it they have changed the world. The co-founders had been praised for this great work, for their insight and foresight. It was undoubtedly a lot of work, a lot of hard lessons, and a huge leap of faith that we were doing what was right. Although we did take the initiative, the truth is that it was the elephants that were doing the directing. They are the ones that made sanctuary what is was. Their actions drove us to expand and grow, their stories, not ours, are the ones that have changed how many in the world view captive elephants. Those few elephants changed the fates of elephants everywhere.
It has been an incredible 20 years, filled with tears that were deeper than I thought a soul could feel and unbounded joy that is stronger than life itself. Elephants have changed me, they have shaped me and they have trusted in me to take what they have offered and continue to share.
Now, 20 years and 1 day later, the journey continues. We move forward with the wisdom and knowledge that the elephants have offered and a belief in knowing that we are doing what is right. We are once again going out on a limb, it’s going to be a lot of work, more than the first time, and it’s going to take money that we trust will soon come. There are going to be many more tears that we now know bring balance to the unimaginable happiness. More than anything else, we know that sanctuary means the world to elephants, as it opens their hearts so they too can play their role in creating a better tomorrow.
We are all on this journey together.