EXIT 196

By Betsy Thorpe

“Each day an elephant remains in the confined space provided by zoos and circuses their health is compromised; causing unrelieved suffering and premature death.”
Carol Buckley President and Co-Founder
The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee


Ronnie and her devoted companion Debbie arrived at the Elephant Sanctuary on February 7, 2006 becoming the twentieth and twenty first residents of The Elephant Sanctuary. They were the fifth and sixth of eight circus elephants to arrive in the “Caravan To Freedom” rescue.

Photo, used with permission, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

Dozens of travelers leave I-40 at Exit 196 everyday, some to visit friends and family, others for fuel and or refreshment. They all have a story to tell and every week we will share a tale or two that we heard at Exit 196.

Last week two enthusiastic animal rights activists from Madison Wisconsin, traveling west on I-40 stopped at Exit 196 to ask for directions to the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald. We told them to continue west to Exit 172 and to then follow the Natchez Trace for about forty miles. We explained that the Trace is a rustic and ancient trail first used by animals and native people that connected southern portions of the Mississippi River, through Alabama, to central Tennessee. Sections of the Old Trace ran through the heart of Choctaw and Chickasaw country and through a series of mounds built by people over a period of 2000 years. In addition to the Mound Builders,and Choctaw, and Chickasaw people, preachers, bandits, slaves, soldiers, settlers, and even Meriwether Lewis made their mark on the historic trail.

Not wanting to disappoint our young guests we neglected to tell them that although the Sanctuary is currently constructing an Education Gallery in downtown Hohenwald, the Sanctuary is not open to the public. The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee was developed specifically to provide a place for traumatized elephants to recover from the debilitating experience of captivity in both zoos and circuses, and to educate the public about the crisis facing elephants in captivity and in the wild. Since 1995, twenty-four elephants have found sanctuary in Tennessee, where they will peacefully and privately live out their lives in freedom as they roam the natural habitat of the Sanctuary.

We hope our happy travelers enjoyed their road trip and that they were not too disappointed when they realized they would not be allowed entrance into the Sanctuary. We admire their dedication to animal rights and we wish them well. Perhaps in the future they will remember us and return to Exit 196.

Go here to find out how you can help support the Elephant Sanctuary of Tennessee.

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