KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — After more than 20 years at Zoo Knoxville, Jana the elephant has a new home in Middle Tennessee.

Zoo officials announced in 2022 that three aging African elephants would be moved to the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, a 3000-acre refuge for elephants who are retired from zoos and circuses.

Jana, a female African elephant, was the first to be moved to sanctuary.

According to Zoo Knoxville’s news release, the facility made a decision to transfer their three elephants — Jana, Edie and Tonka — after “carefully considering what is needed for their wellbeing at this stage of their lives.”

Jana will be reunited with Edie, a 39-year-old female, and Tonka, a 45-year-old male, soon. Zoo Knoxville’s elephant caretakers are training Edie to voluntarily enter and stand in a travel crate before her move later this year. Tonka will join them in 2023.

“It was an emotional moment watching Jana’s departure,” said Lisa New, Zoo Knoxville president and CEO. “She is beloved and we will miss her greatly, but we have honored our commitment to Jana to ensure her wellbeing and care through every stage of her life. We all look forward to watching her continue to thrive under the care of our colleagues at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.”

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“Realizing that Knoxville’s herd will be facing inevitable losses in the near future, the move to Hohenwald to join a larger group of elephants assures each of them the companionship they are accustomed to for the remainder of their lives,” according to the news release.

The decision was also supported by that Louisville Zoo, who gave Jana to Zoo Knoxville in 1998.

Zoo Knoxville and The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee are both accredited members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), assuring the continuation of the highest standard of care for them.

Zoo Knoxville will provide updates on their anticipated departures.

To learn more about The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, visit their website at Jana’s transition to her new home can be observed via their live-streaming EleCams at