An inside look into South Georgia's future elephant refuge

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By: Erika Fernandez
December 21, 2016

Carol Buckley with one of her elephants.

BAINBRIDGE, Ga. (WCTV) -- By the end of next year, elephants will be roaming an 850-acre land in South Georgia. The new elephant refuge, located about 30 miles northwest of Tallahassee in Decatur County, is taking over what was once a cattle ranch.

Run by Elephant Aid International, the group provides refuge for elephants once in captivity. After searching the southern states for nearly two years, founder of Elephant Aid International, Carol Buckley, says she believes she’s finally found safety for these wild animals.

"Zoos are not in a situation, nor is a circus in a situation where they can provide for an elephant according to the elephant’s biological and psychological needs, it’s just not possible. It’s not the mission of a zoo or circus to do it that way, sanctuaries are," Buckley says.

Elephants need room to roam 30-50 miles a day. Buckley says the environment keeps the elephants interested and in tune with their surroundings.

"Even though they're in captivity, they're wild. Even if they're born in captivity, they're still wild. They're never domesticated, even in their homeland in Asia, they are not domesticated," Buckley says.

But the search to find this land wasn't easy. Partnering with a broker, the space needed to have the right amount of privacy while also helping the elephants recover from captivity.

"It was right on the Georgia Florida line, perfect shape, perfect mixture of rolling pastures, of ponds, of small lakes, of hardwoods, creek bottoms, just the perfect combination," land broker, Walter Hatchett says.

A perfect combination to give the elephants a better life and a new place to call home.

Buckley says the refuge will not be open to the public, but there will be cameras set up with a live feed available online. She hopes to have 7 to 10 elephants with the goal to be finished in about six months.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
December 20, 2016

BAINBRIDGE, Ga. (WCTV) -- An 846-acre cattle ranch located 30 miles northwest of Tallahassee will soon be converted into an elephant refuge.

The South Georgia ranch just sold to the Founder of Elephant Aid International, Carol Buckley.

The site plans to be a refuge for elephants recovering from life in captivity and past traumas. Buckley founded America's first elephant refuge in Tennessee 20 years ago.

Buckley's realtor says she had been searching for the past 18 months for the perfect piece of land for a new refuge project.

The ranch includes a mixture of open pastures, wooded areas, and lakes.

The realtor says work will begin soon on a basic perimeter fence, as well as an elephant-proof barrier fence. Up to ten elephants will eventually be moved onto the property, but that could take another six months or more.

Buckley says the ranch will also be a new home for her elephant of 42 years, Tarra.

The cattle ranch that will soon be converted into an elephant sanctuary. / Photo: Jon Kohler & Associates
Carol Buckley with one of her elephants.
Elephants at Buckley's Tennessee sanctuary.
Carol Buckley with one of her elephants.

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