Free to Be Elephants is an education and grassroots campaign created by the Nonhuman Rights Project–the only organization in the US dedicated solely to securing legal rights for nonhuman animals. Broadly speaking, this campaign aims to promote understanding of and compassion for elephants as a basis for ending their captivity in US zoos.

The focus of this campaign is on zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which is the single biggest exploiter of elephants in the US–and has the power to end hundreds of elephants’ suffering now.

The first phase of this campaign is an interactive map and comprehensive shareable index that shines a light on the lives of the more than 250 elephants held captive in AZA-accredited zoos across the US–more than half of the total number of elephants held captive in the US. As we build out this index, you’ll be able to learn and share every elephant’s life story and everything else the zoos won’t tell you, including what it really means when an elephant is brought to or born in a zoo. Additionally, on this site you can learn about the unjust practices zoos engage in that cause elephants great physical and psychological harm.

Beginning in 2024, once the educational component of this campaign is underway, the second phase of the campaign will invite users of the index and the public at large to take specific actions to call on zoos to close their elephant exhibits and release as many elephants as possible to sanctuaries. The index will track these closures, elephant deaths in zoo captivity, and the release of elephants to sanctuaries.

These elephants urgently need your help. Thank you for joining us!