Scott Blais - A Sanctuary for Giants
Scott Blais co-founder Global Sanctuary for Elephants – Gary M. Stolz, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Scott Blais stands as a towering figure in the world of elephant conservation, co-founding the Global Sanctuary for Elephants, a refuge dedicated to the recovery and protection of elephants from circuses, zoos, and inadequate care facilities. His journey is one of profound empathy, deep understanding, and a tireless commitment to providing a better life for some of the Earth’s most majestic, yet often mistreated, creatures. Blais’s narrative is a testament to the belief that with compassion and dedication, it is possible to rectify the wrongs inflicted on these gentle giants and offer them a life of dignity and peace.

Blais’s path to becoming an advocate for elephants was not a straightforward one. His initial work with elephants in captivity gave him firsthand insight into the complex needs of these intelligent and sensitive beings. He witnessed the profound psychological and physical trauma they endured when confined and isolated from their natural social structures and environments. This experience was a catalyst for his dedication to change the way humans interact with and care for elephants.

In 1995, Scott Blais co-founded The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, the United States’ first natural habitat refuge developed specifically for African and Asian elephants. This pioneering effort was a monumental step in providing a place where elephants could retire from public display and live out their lives in a more natural and peaceful setting. Here, Blais’s understanding of elephant behavior, health, and emotional needs deepened, and so did his resolve to expand his efforts on a global scale.

Understanding the global nature of elephant mistreatment and the unique challenges faced in different parts of the world, Blais, along with his wife Kat and other experts, established the Global Sanctuary for Elephants (GSE) in 2013. The GSE’s mission is to create vast, safe, and natural environments where elephants can recover from the trauma of captivity, rediscover joy and companionship, and live out their lives with the respect and dignity they deserve.

One of GSE’s most notable projects is Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, the first and only elephant sanctuary in Latin America. This sanctuary is a realization of Blais’s vision, offering a haven for elephants to heal and thrive. Here, elephants that have spent decades performing in circuses or living in inadequate zoo enclosures can roam free, bathe in natural ponds, and forage in the lush landscapes. They form bonds with other elephants, an essential aspect of their recovery, as elephants are incredibly social animals.

Blais’s work goes beyond providing a refuge; it’s about changing the narrative surrounding captive elephants. He advocates for an understanding that these creatures are not commodities for entertainment or labor but sentient beings deserving of empathy and freedom. Through educational outreach and collaboration with governments, NGOs, and the public, Blais and the GSE team work to promote a cultural shift towards better elephant care and conservation.

His commitment has also led to hands-on interventions, including rescuing elephants in dire situations, providing critical veterinary care, and facilitating the complex logistics of transporting these large animals across continents to their new sanctuary homes. Each rescue is a story of transformation, not only for the elephants who begin a new life but also for the people involved, who often see firsthand the incredible intelligence and emotional depth of these animals.

Scott Blais’s impact on elephant welfare is profound. Through his work, elephants that have known only suffering and confinement can rediscover what it means to be an elephant. They can wander, play, socialize, and, most importantly, they can heal. His story is one of hope and inspiration, demonstrating that change is possible and that there are always opportunities to make a positive difference in the lives of others, no matter how large or daunting the task may seem.

As the Global Sanctuary for Elephants continues to grow and support more elephants in need, Blais’s legacy is evident in the footprints of every elephant that walks the earth a little more freely because of his efforts. His life and work remind us of our responsibility to protect and respect all living beings and the difference we can make when we approach the world with compassion, dedication, and an unwavering commitment to justice and kindness.

Don Leith

By Don Leith

Retired from the real world. A love of research left over from my days on the debate team in college long ago led me to work on this website. Granted, not all these stories are "fun" or even "trivial" But they all are either weird, unusual or even extraordinary. Working on this website is "fun" in any case. Hope you enjoy it!