Most people will never have the opportunity to witness firsthand the emotional healing that occurs at sanctuary and honestly, we can never fully do it justice when trying to put it into words. For some elephants, sanctuary is a rebirth; they walk off of the transport truck and are changed forever, for others it is a lifelong process requiring an active and honest effort on their part. The depth and gravity of psychological damage that occurs in captivity is not only severe but its true extent is something that wasn’t even altogether realized until we actually witnessed them recovering in sanctuary. To watch the growth and struggles as they rediscover who they genuinely are and learn to trust in themselves, other elephants, and humans again is both magnificent and heartbreaking at the same time. In the most basic sense, sanctuary is about giving elephants space and a more natural life, but the core of it all is about giving back something much more significant themselves.
“When we return wild animals to nature, we merely return them to what is already theirs. For man cannot give wild animals freedom, they can only take it away” –Jaques Cousteau