The RSPCA’s head of wildlife is leaving the charity after more than 11 years to become the new CEO of The Elephant Sanctuary of Tennesse – the USA’s largest natural habitat refuge developed specifically for endangered Asian and African elephants.

The RSPCA’s head of wildlife is leaving the charity after more than 11 years to become the new CEO of The Elephant Sanctuary of Tennesse – the USA’s largest natural habitat refuge developed specifically for endangered Asian and African elephants.

During his time at the RSPCA, Rob Atkinson worked on a wide variety of animal welfare issues and changed the focus of the RSPCA’s work on the rehabilitation of injured wildlife, giving it a more ethical and science-based approach.

Rob Atkinson. Image courtesy RSPCA.Eight years ago he started the movement that brought the welfare problems of elephants in zoos to the public’s attention – a focus that, to date, has resulted in 25% fewer elephants in UK zoos than there were in 2002 and 28% fewer zoos keeping them.

Mr Atkinson said: “With my background in zoos and animal welfare organisation, I have worked with captive elephants for many years. I know that zoos and circuses often use the wrong approach, ignoring many of the basic facts about the way elephants live and what they need to be healthy.

Elephants are complex, sensitive animals which deserve the best care, and for captive elephants in need, that place is The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. It is a true sanctuary of healing and refuge.”

Janice Zeitlin, board chairman of The Elephant Sanctuary, said: “We’re extremely excited and honored to have a person of Rob’s distinction and expertise joining us in the Sanctuary’s mission to aid these magnificent creatures and bring awareness to the crisis facing captive elephants around the world. Under Rob’s leadership, we will continue providing a place of safety, dignity and peace to elephants in need and expand our efforts for education worldwide.”

  • For further details of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, visit www.elephants.com.
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