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Working for Welfare

Welfare is integral to Elephant Care International’s mission. We work to improve the welfare of elephants by providing direct care to individuals, working with elephant specialists and scientists to lobby for better welfare for elephants used in tourism, and educating individuals and groups about what welfare means. 

Collaborating with Elephant Specialists and Scientists to Lobby for Better Welfare for Elephants Used in Tourism

ECI co-founders Hank Hammatt and Susan Mikota have been members of the Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG) for many years. The AsESG is part of the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The AsESG is a global network of specialists concerned with the study, monitoring, management, and conservation of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in its 13 range states. The AsESG is composed of voluntary biologists, ecologists, veterinarians, conservationists and other specialists. Drs. Mikota and Brown are members of the AsESG task force charged with developing Management and Welfare Guidelines for Captive Asian Elephants Used in Tourism. 

Drs. Susan Mikota, Janine Brown and Khyne U Mar

Dr. Susan Mikota (left) with colleagues Dr. Khyne U. Mar (center) and Dr. Janine Brown (right) at an Asian Elephant Specialist Group meeting.

Educating Individuals and Groups About Elephant Welfare

To further facilitate ECI’s dedication to welfare, Dr. Mikota pursued a rigorous course of study to become board certified by the American College of Animal Welfare. 

The American College of Animal Welfare (ACAW) is one of only 22 Specialty Organizations recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The mission of ACAW is to advance animal welfare through education, certification, and scientific investigation.

Dr. Mikota has lectured about elephant welfare in the U.S. and Asia. In 2018 she presented at the national AVMA meeting as part of the short course presented by ACAW to candidates pursuing board certification. 

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Buildling a hay net for elephants
Elephant hay net for enrichment

Supporting Positive Change

Positive Reinforcement Training is a method for human to communicate with elephants through a reward-based system. No punishment is ever used. PRT is a kinder way to manage elephants. This method is becoming the norm in western zoos and it is being used increasingly in Asia.


In 2018 Elephant Care International and partners conducted an Elephant Healthcare and Welfare Training Workshop in Myanmar for elephant managers and veterinarians aimed at teaching PRT techniques and demonstrating how it can facilitate better veterinary care. Read our Elephant Care Asia report here.

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COVID-19 Elephant Healthcare & Welfare Emergency Lifeline Fund

COVID-19 changed everything. That included the lives of an estimated 14,000 captive elephants throughout Asia and the people who ensure their well-being.


Elephant sanctuaries and camps closed. Working elephants, like humans, were in lock down mode. 


With COVID-19’s arrival, tourists vanished from Asia along with crucial funds needed to support the health and welfare of elephants living under human care.


ECI partnered with Work for Wild Life and Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation during Covid to provide essential food, medicine, supplies, and hands-on health and welfare care for elephants until the COVID-19 crisis passed and the economy stabilized. Read more.   Read News from the Field.

Elephant Publications: Welfare and Tourism 

 ECI maintains an up-to date bibliographic database of scientific publications about elephant welfare and tourism. Click here to access database. 

Elephant Covid emergency fund

Please consider a donation to help us ensure better welfare for elephants everywhere.  DONATE HERE!

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