In 2020, the first sanctuary in Europe created to take care of elephants retiring from zoos and circuses opened its doors. Elephant Haven, a dream place for pachyderms in dire need of space and freedom. Equestrio Foundation supported this project, managed by intrepid and passionate animal caretakers Sofie Goetghebeur and Tony Verhulst. We have decided to renew our funding for a new project and we tell you all about it.


A very hot topic

The die has been cast. In six years’ time there will be no more wild animals in touring circuses in France.

On 18 November 2021, the French Parliament and Senate passed a law aimed at fighting against animal abuse and strengthening the bond between animals and humans. This is a major step forwards and, by the year 2023, acquiring and presenting circus animals to the public will be made illegal. The possession and performances of wild animals in touring circuses will also be banned by the year 2028.


Where can elephants spend their twilight years?

It was partly to anticipate this turning point for animal well-being, which is also spreading across Europe, that Sofie and Tony created the Elephant Haven sanctuary. It is indeed very challenging, if not unfeasible, to send retired pachyderms back to their homeland as they are no longer capable of living in the wild and the logistics would be incredibly complex. As it is impossible for them to return to their land of birth, Belgian carers have moved heaven and earth to offer them that of the Limousin. They can now provide these retirees with VIP access to a welcoming area of 28 hectares, covered by gentle hills and luxurious vegetation…the perfect place to allow these elephants marked by exile, confinement and isolation, to recover, heal and embrace a new destiny.


Support from Equestrio Foundation

The construction and maintenance of a structure adapted to the needs of the heaviest of land mammals involves a significant number of resources! This project came to life and continues to forge ahead thanks to the support of many volunteers but also that of several NGOs including the Brigitte Bardot Foundation which financed part of the work.

In 2021, Equestrio Foundation contributed to the purchase of firewood for the stable, equipment for the centre’s logistics and hay for its first resident: Ghandi,  a 52-year-old elephant captured in Thailand before being sent to a Danish zoo in 1973, and then to Morbihan (France).

Bruised and battered by years of captivity and isolation due to her difficulty in cohabiting with her fellow elephants, she is adjusting progressively to her new life thanks to the expertise, patience, and total dedication of the centre’s team.


Let’s set about for a second year of funding

Elephants are known to be extremely loyal and steadfast in their relationships. So are we! Equestrio Foundation has indeed decided to continue supporting Elephant Haven with a new project in 2022.

We have allocated 8,237 euros to the purchase of various equipment:

100 tons of sand to improve the comfort of the ground in 3 boxes (2 805 euros),

a new water pump for the barn (3,532 euros),

rubber tiles (950 euros).



Ghandi is already making the most of these new facilities! It is also said that she will now have to learn to share her new family and toys with someone…Hang in there, we’ll tell you all about this very soon! And if, in the meantime, you wish to contribute to this wonderful project, just click here. 👈

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