The Founder’s Syndrome

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Because there is no sanctuary for elephants in Europe, we first went to talk to refuges for other animals like birds, foxes, and owls. The first one said it was a stupid idea and not necessary. But luckily we got more advice from other ones. We talked with the studbook keepers of Asian and of African elephants, other organizations, zoos, colleges, veterinarians, even accountants…

We approached also the 2 sanctuaries in the USA: Tennessee Elephant Sanctuary and PAWS in California. Talked to Carol Buckley and met so many interesting and amazing people.

There was so much to ask: How did they start? What do they struggle with? What you exactly do when the first elephant arrive, and when the second elephant arrives? What’s the best structure of the barn? How you keep going? What are the costs? Etc.

In all the good advice we got from everybody, there was a funny one:

“Watch out for the ‘Founder’s Syndrome’!”

The project will be your “baby”, and it will be hard to distance yourself and leave it to other people.
They advised us to take time off once and a while.

We must admit that we already feel the F-syndrome taking over: no time to waste, working from early in the morning until late in the evening, 7 days a week. Especially Sofie, who wants to control everything ;-).
Ok, we’ll work on it ;-).

Tony Verhulst, Founder of Elephant Haven

Elephant Haven

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