Scott Blais, co-founder of the Global Sanctuary for Elephants, currently running Elephant Sanctuary Brazil

Scott Blais—co-founder of the Global Sanctuary for Elephants, whose initial facility is the Elephant Sanctuary Brazil—begins the conversation aiming to answer my question about what makes elephants magical, what provokes such passionate response to them in so many people. Noting our last full-length interview was in 2013, at which point the Elephant Sanctuary Brazil was still taking shape, Blais discusses the efforts (and, sometimes, challenges) of making the sanctuary a reality, including procuring the 2800 acre parcel on which the facility sits, itself a complicated task—for example, nonprofits in Brazil aren’t able to secure loans. But well worth the effort, clearly, as things are rolling along, with two elephants having been relocated to the Sanctuary in the past several weeks, and efforts afoot to give home there to a third new resident. As a slight conversational detour—from addressing the elephant-ideal climate in Brazil, to how cold an area can be while still suitable for pachyderms—Blais (who co-founded The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee) speaks to the situation of Lucy, the elephant who lives alone in the Edmonton Valley Zoo, and longstanding efforts to move her to a sanctuary. He runs down the current elephant population at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, including recent arrivals, Ramba and Lady, and describes some the differences between Asian and African elephants—so far, the Sanctuary residents are all the former, but they’re hoping to provide a home for their first African, named Kenya. This will require additional fencing, which involves a fund-raising campaign, now underway, Blais explains, noting how the Sanctuary is funded (and the funds they don’t receive), as well as how many elephants could conceivably be accommodated there over time, with additional expansion and construction. (https://globalelephants.org/, https://www.instagram.com/sanctuary4elephants/, https://www.facebook.com/globalsanctuaryforelephants/)

 

ALSO: I spoke briefly with Kelsey Eberly, staff attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), about a lawsuit ALDF filed recently to assist in the effort to remove horses from the California Equine Retirement Foundation (CERF), which for three decades has taken in retired racehorses, cared for them, and provided them sanctuary for the rest of their lives. CERF enjoyed a sterling reputation for most of those 30-odd years, Eberly says. However, she says, that a few years ago, when a new executive director took over leadership, the operation shifted, as apparently did the care of the horses. Increasingly, the horses were allegedly neglected and seriously underfed, and in a period from late-May to mid-June, 44 horses were removed from the organization. For reasons that are unclear, Eberly says, CERF has refused to surrender the approximately 20 remaining horses, which prompted the ALDF lawsuit. (https://aldf.org/)

 COMEDY CORNER: Drew Hastings’ “Farming 101” (portion) (https://www.drewhastings.com/)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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