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Elephant Haven

Founders Sofie & Tony

A European safe haven for elephants

Elephant Haven, founded by Tony Velhulst and Sofie Goetghebeur, is an elephant sanctuary that encompasses 60 acres of rural land in the South-West of France.  As relocating rescued elephants back to their country of origin is not a realistic option, Elephant Haven will provide elephants with a safe and natural home to retire to, as more and more countries in Europe ban the use of wild animals in circuses. They will also offer a home and lifetime care for elephants requiring refuge from other captive facilities. 


There will be six purpose-built stables on site, with heated living quarters and large outdoor paddocks, all of which will be accessible to the elephants 24 hours a day. Each elephant will have at least five acres of undulating land to roam in, including lakes, woodland and shrubs. In addition to standard living quarters, the sanctuary will also include a quarantine area for sick or injured elephants, specific areas to help aid social rehabilitation, and separate habitats for African and Asian elephants.


Visitors will be taught about the harsh reality of life for circus elephants and the lasting negative impact it has on their welfare. They will be able to view the rescued elephants at specific times, but only from a distance. The elephants will have the ultimate choice whether to be in view or be obscured from view in a wooded area of their paddocks.

What Elephant Haven Project will do

  • Provide a safe and natural environment for elephants retired from circuses or zoos in Europe​​

  • Re-socialise and rehabilitate captive elephants 

  • Provide information and research on the complex needs of elephants and their behaviour

  • Contribute to promoting respect for elephants and their habitats

  • Educate the public and visitors on elephant needs and care

How Olsen Animal Trust helps

  • Funded the completion of the first phase of the sanctuary construction in France

  • Have ring-fenced funds to assist with their first elephant rescue


Project Images - hover over for details

Tony & Sofie enjoying the landscape
The sanctuary space
Fence construction
OATOKE gets stuck in!
Barn construction
State of the art facilities

For further information on the work of Elephant Haven please visit

 © Elephant Haven, Olsen Animal Trust All rights reserved
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