Frequently Asked Questions about the Elephant Managers Association

Who We Are

What is the Elephant Managers Association (EMA)'s mission?

  • EMA is an international non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare and survival of the world's elephants through improving communication, husbandry, research, education, and conservation. 
  • EMA is the largest collection of elephant experts and enthusiasts in the world.

How does the EMA act out its mission?

  • EMA's goals include: (1) to promote and advance the profession of elephant training and management; (2) to promote research on elephant behavior, training, and husbandry; (3) to promote conservation issues related to elephants; (4) to promote high standards of safety and humane treatment in elephant training and husbandry; (5) to disseminate accurate and scientifically based information about elephants; and (6) to promote better communication and relations among elephant managers through an annual conference and publications.
  • The EMA holds an annual conference, hosted by a leading institutions in the elephant management community each year. The conference gives members an opportunity to network, share information, and listen to presentations from elephant professionals, researchers, and conservationists. The conference host allows members to tour their facility, and they often schedule trips to nearby facilities. Scholarships are available for EMA members.
  • EMA also raises funds to support several in-situ conservation efforts in Africa and Asia. To learn about some of the recent conservation projects EMA has supported, click here.
  • The EMA also circulates two publications, The Journal of the Elephant Managers Association (JEMA) and Gray Matters, which have information on elephant husbandry, enrichment, research, conservation, and more. In addition to these resources, EMA's website offers a Members Only section that contains documents on elephant management, educational resources, and access to our library of past publications.
  • The EMA is very active in working with lawmakers across the country to make them aware of the science behind elephant training and is proud of its ongoing constructive efforts with city, state, and federal regulatory agencies on all matters related to elephant welfare.

Who are the EMA's members?

  • Most of EMA's members provide daily care to elephants in facilities throughout the world. Animal care administrators, veterinarians, researchers, educators, zoo volunteers, and wildlife enthusiasts make up the remainder of our membership. However, any individual who cares about elephants and is interested in the objectives and goals set forth by the EMA is welcome to become a member.

How did the EMA begin?

  • In the early 1980s, elephant professionals in North America began to gather for informal meetings, realizing the need for and the benefits of sharing information about elephant husbandry and training. In 1988, participants in the annual meeting held at Jacksonville Zoo voted to officially form the EMA, and a steering committee of leading professionals in the field of elephant care was elected.

What We Do

How is EMA affiliated with other organizations?

  • Even though EMA is not formally linked with any other organization, many of its members work closely with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the International Elephant Foundation (IEF) on issues of conservation and continuing professional development. The EMA has also served in an advisory capacity to many regulatory agencies, including USDA/APHIS.

Does EMA have a stance on banning ivory?

  • The EMA supports actions that will directly reduce the poaching of elephants in Africa and Asia and that will help end the illegal ivory trade, including the nationwide ban on the illegal ivory trade adopted by the US. We recognize that there is still progress to be made toward the goal of preventing the illegal poaching of elephants for their ivory. We fervently hope a solution can be reached before wild populations are negatively affected any further.

How will my membership dues be spent?

  • Your membership dues help EMA achieve its mission. One small portion is used to offset the cost of each conference and defray the organization's administrative costs, with much of the fees going to scholarships that are awarded before each conference. We are also pleased that a large portion of membership dues support elephant conservation and research projects in range countries, as well as projects that enhance the well-being of elephants in human care.

What does the EMA hope to accomplish as an organization in the next ten years?

  • We hope to increase individual and institutional memberships, allowing us to expand our reach and maximize our contributions to conservation and research.
  • We hope to become the number one source of elephant information for individuals connected to the elephant community and for those who need general elephant informations.
  • We hope to continue fostering improved communication, husbandry, research, and education through our annual conference, website, social media, and publicaitons.
  • We hope to continue our conservation initiatives.

How You Can Get Involved

How can I join the EMA?

  • There are several different levels of memberships in the EMA. Your professional experience and current affiliation will determine which levels is right for you. Please visit our website by clicking here to get started with your membership.

Can I make a donation to the EMA?

  • Yes! If you're not interested in becoming a member (or if you are already a member) and would still like to support our mission to help elephants globally, please contact the Board of Directors at, or click here.

What is the best way to stay informed and updated on EMA news and happenings?

  • When you become a member, you will have access to our publications that will keep you up-to-date on the significant happenings within EMA. Attending a conference is another excellent way to keep in touch with news from the elephant community around the world. Additionally, you can follow us on social media via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Visit us at to learn more.

What can I do to help elephants?

  • Great question! Elephants across Africa and Asia are disappearing every day and we're so happy that you want to help the EMA in its fight against elephant extinction. Here are a few easy ways you can help the world's elephants:
      • Educate yourself on the issues affecting elephants and their habitats so you can vote in the most informed way possible.
      • Contact your local government officials and voice your concerns about the issues pertinent to elephant conservation.
      • Visit your local zoo or elephant facility. Their employees are well-informed about vital elephant conservation efforts that you should consider supporting.
      • Be a conscientious shopper. Steer clear not only of ivory, but also of products that contain palm oil, non-fair-trade coffee, and wood that has not been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. With these choices, you are supporting the companies that are managing their use of wild elephant habitat in a responsible manner.
      • Donate to the EMA by clicking here.

Not finding the answer that you're looking for? Reach out to us directly by clicking here.

The Elephant Managers Association (EMA) is an international, 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization.

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