The Origin of GSE in 2013 to Address the Lack of Sanctuaries

Global Sanctuary for Elephants (GSE) originated in 2013 when our founding board and notable experts came together, initially to work on a solution to the growing crisis for captive elephants in South America. But the realization of how global the struggle actually was quickly became quickly evident.

Captive elephant health, internationally, is in a state of emergency. Untold elephants are severely restricted by a life on chains or in extreme confinement; insufficient diet and isolation from proper social groupings often lead to severe health complications; they can be exposed to and develop active tuberculosis disease and suffer psychological illness ranging from extreme aggression, self-mutilation, and withdrawal. 

Human awareness of the suffering of captive animals is increasing, creating a global desire for positive change. In some regions around the world, private groups of concerned citizens are working to create alternatives for these elephants in need, but few people have the experience and knowledge to move these efforts forward.

Captive elephant health, internationally, is in a state of emergency.

Board Members Petter Granli and Dr. Joyce Poole with GSE CEO and Co-founder Scott Blais

The Origin of GSE: Petter Granli, Dr. Joyce Poole, Scott Blais

The Need for Sanctuaries for Elephants in South America


In South America, 5 countries have already passed national bans to prohibit the use of performing elephants. These progressive efforts are unprecedented and should be commended. However, they have unforeseen repercussions, as out-of-work elephants are being left on rural farms with little care and increased neglect, or in improvised, small enclosures at zoos with no expertise in elephant care.

Brazil and South America are not the only regions struggling to find progressive alternatives for elephant care, and we’ve seen several similar efforts stagnate at the conceptual phase, while elephants continue to endure a destiny of neglect.



Global Sanctuary for Elephants is primed to provide the necessary expertise, hands-on assistance, and pivotal funding to aid in the development of elephant sanctuaries, domestically and internationally, and provide support for the global welfare and well-being of elephants wherever the need exists. We know that sanctuary life can make a profound difference to the health and well-being of captive elephants. And we know that we have the capacity to make a difference in these global efforts.



Our primary objective is to create a global coalition to ensure a safe, secure, and humane future for captive elephants through the development and support of spacious, holistic, natural habitat elephant sanctuaries worldwide. We bring a commitment to affect positive change and strive to foster a deeper comprehension of the intelligence and social complexity of elephants.

Our Initial Project: Elephant Sanctuary Brazil

For our initial project, Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, we are taking advantage of our two very knowledgeable experts, Dr. Joyce Poole, internationally renowned for her studies of wild elephants in Africa, and Scott Blais, co-founder of The Elephant Sanctuary, one of two organizations that have pioneered progressive elephant care.  With Joyce’s extensive knowledge of natural elephant behavior and Scott’s thorough understanding of captive elephant care and recovery, Elephant Sanctuary Brazil is prepared to have a profound impact on the lives of captive elephants in Brazil and throughout South America.  

But our ultimate goal would be to provide sanctuary in other continents as well.  With over 5,000 African and Asian elephants in captivity and only approximately 120 of them in sanctuary, elephants around the world are in dire need of a healthy alternative.


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Maia and Guida, rescued Oct 2016, at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil