Definition of Free-contact

From the elephant glossary Section: management

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The free contact (FC) is based on the 5 000 years tradition of alpha animal training technique. The trainer is not only trainer, but is part of the Herd, and the trainer is the leader of the Herd, the alpha animal. NO alternative here, if the trainer fails with this, the elephant will challenge the trainer, either by attacking the trainer, or someone else. It is when the elephant doesnt accept the trainer as alpha-animal, that "accidents" occur.

Records about Free-contact from the Gajah Glossary at Free-contact: [see also: protected-contact] Doyle 1993) Working with captive elephants, in which there is no border between the human and the elephant.

M. Philip Kahl and Charles Santiapillai, Gajah Elephant Glossary, Gajah nr 23 (2004), Journal for Asian Elephant Specialist Group

Less and less locations in the Western Hemisphere manage elephants in FC.

Central Asia

Almaty Zoo (Alma-Ata Zoo) in Kazakhstan




Leipzig Zoo

Czech Republic

Liberec Zoo


Berlin Zoo, Elefantenhof Platschow, Hagenbeck Tierpark in Hamburg, Leipzig Zoo, Wilhelma Zoo in Stuttgart, and Wuppertal Zoo.


Sosto Zoo

United Kingdom, UK

West Midlands, Woburn safari.


Ljubljana Zoo


Knie Kinderzoo in Rappersville

Non Zoos

Skanda Vale Temple, Wales, UK

North America


African Lion Safari in Cambridge Ontario, and Edmonton Zoo.


Only privately owned elephants are FC, since AZA mandated PC years ago.

Reference list Koehl, Dan, (2024). Free-contact. Elephant Encyclopedia, available online retrieved 20 September 2021 at (archived at the Wayback machine)

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Categories glossary | management

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