In Tennessee there is a place called The Elephant Sanctuary. Their mission?
The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee exists to provide captive elephants with individualized care, the companionship of a herd, and the opportunity to live out their lives in a safe haven dedicated to their well-being, and to raise public awareness of the complex needs of elephants in captivity, and the crisis facing elephants in the wild.
While the Sanctuary cannot be visited, they do have a live elephant cam (http://www.elephants.com/facilities#elecam), and The Elephant Discovery Center in downtown Hohenwald, TN is open to the public.
According to The Elephant Sanctuary:
Elephants are the only remaining members of the Proboscidea order of mammals. The order included the extinct wooly mammoth and American mastodon.
Elephants are a “keystone species.” If a keystone species disappears through extinction or removal, the entire ecosystem would change drastically. Other species rely on the keystone species for survival.
Today there are three surviving elephant species:
Asian elephant (Elephas Maximus)
African savanna elephant (Loxodonta Africana)
African forest elephant (Loxodonta Cyclotis)
Among Asian elephants (Elephas Maximus), there are three subspecies: Indian, Sri Lankan, and Sumatran. These are distinguished by physical traits related to their geographic location. African savannah elephants (Loxodonta Africana) live in the grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa. African forest elephant (Loxodonta Cyclotis) live in the Congo River Basin in western central Africa. Asian elephants live throughout southeastern Asia, from as far west as India to as far east as the Indonesian islands.
Elephants are very intelligent. According to a writer at Mental Floss (see complete information there):
7 Behaviors That Prove Elephants Are Incredibly Smart
Elephants are exceptionally smart creatures. They have the largest brain of any land animal, and three times as many neurons as humans. While many of these neurons exist to control the elephant’s large and dexterous body, these creatures have demonstrated their impressive mental capabilities time and time again. Here, a few interesting findings about the intelligence of elephants.
1. They can identify languages.
2. They can use tools.
3. They understand human body language.
4. They show empathy.
5. They mourn their dead.
6. They mimic human voices.
7. They have extraordinary memories.
As a dog lover, I was surprised to find an organization, Working Dogs For Conservation that trains rescue dogs in global conservation projects including the detection of ivory poaching and trafficking.
This is an interesting 60-Minutes program from several years ago.