Carol Buckley & Tarra
   Carol Buckley & Tarra

Carol Buckley

Carol Buckley, an international leader in the care and trauma recovery of elephants, is founder and President/CEO of Elephant Aid International.

With more than thirty years experience working with elephants in captivity, Buckley is known for her extensive knowledge of elephant values, physiology and culture. She has developed revolutionary non-dominant management systems and holistic healthcare programs that support the recovery of elephants while ensuring their autonomy.

Buckley co-founded The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, the first natural habitat refuge for sick, old and needy elephants, which is internationally known for its integrative holistic approach to medical care and recovery.

In her fifteen years at the Sanctuary, Buckley was responsible for bringing twenty-four elephants to sanctuary, and coordinated the rescue of the first elephant ever confiscated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In another unprecedented event, Buckley coordinated the rescue of a group of eight female elephants confiscated from the Hawthorn Corporation by the USDA. She designed individualized treatment programs to help them recover from the physical, psychological and emotional effects of nearly four decades of circus life.

Before founding The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, Buckley operated her own elephant management company, Tarra Productions, performing throughout the US, Canada and abroad in a number of circuses, including Circus Gatini in Quebec, Canada, and the Big Apple Circus in New York City.

She has worked and consulted with zoos, including African Lion Safari and Bowmanville Zoo in Ontario, Canada; the Racine Zoo in Wisconsin; and the Chehaw Wild Animal Park in Albany, Georgia. She has also created and managed elephant programs for Marriott’s Great America Theme Park, Knott’s Berry Farm Theme Park, Santa Barbara Zoo, Kansas City Zoo, Nashville Zoo and Granby Zoo.

A leading spokesperson and expert witness for elephant care and protection nationally and internationally, Buckley works with governmental agencies and private organizations to strengthen regulations protecting the welfare of elephants in captivity.

She is a sought-after lecturer on the management, care and recovery of elephants in captivity.

Buckley received a 2001 Genesis Award in recognition of her innovative work and has been named a Hero for The Planet by Time magazine and an Ambassador for Elephants by Asian Elephants Today. She has been the subject of numerous features in the New York Times Magazine, Parade, Chicago Tribune, People and Readers Digest, and on Oprah, ABC News 20/20, CBS News, CNN and the Canadian Broadcast Corp., among others. Two CBS “Assignment America” stories on Tarra, founding elephant of the Sanctuary, and her best friend Bella the dog, are among CBS’s most popular online videos, having been viewed more than 4.1 million times since January 2009. The PBS documentary “The Urban Elephant” told the story of an elderly elephant Shirley, who had lived alone for decades at a Louisiana Zoo, and her reunion at the Sanctuary with another elephant, Jenny, she had known 23 years before when they were together in a circus.

Buckley has contributed chapters to The Elephant's Foot: Prevention and Care of Foot Conditions in Captive Asian and African Elephants (Iowa State University Press, 2001) and An Elephant in the Room: The Science and Well-Being of Elephants in Captivity (Center for Animals and Public Policy, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, 2009). She co-authored an article, “The Art of Cultural Brokerage: Recreating Elephant-Human Relationship and Community,” for the Spring 2010 issue of Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture, and has authored three popular children’s books on elephants.

To learn more about Carol Buckley visit and read her Elevisions blog, or read what Carol's colleagues say about her work.

 Carol Buckley's Curriculum Vitae

On October 1, 2010, Carol Buckley filed suit against The Elephant Sanctuary.


Carol Buckley in Nepal

Carol Buckley, the founder of Elephant Aid International speaks with DC Nepal about the health and treatment of working elephants.


Sunder the Elephant Press Release , July 25, 2014