Buckley and Winkie, 2004
|Education||Exotic Animal Training & Management Program, 1974 Moorpark College, California|
|Occupation||Elephant Welfare Consultant|
In 2010, Buckley founded Tennessee-based Elephant Aid International, and began consulting worldwide to help improve the lives of captive elephants and their mahouts.
While a student at Moorpark College in 1974, Buckley noticed a baby elephant, Fluffy, that a local tire dealer had bought to market his wares. Buckley volunteered to feed and care for the elephant, and a year later, borrowed $25,000, bought Fluffy, changed her name to Tarra, and founded Tarra Productions.
By 1980, when Tarra was six years old and a playful pre-adolescent elephant, Buckley taught Tarra to roller skate. For their first 15 years together, Buckley lived with, cared for, trained, transported and performed with Tarra in circuses and zoos in the US and Canada.
In 1984 Buckley began thinking that the life she had chosen for Tarra amounted to animal abuse, and began to search for a better life for Tarra in a variety of zoos and animal parks where she worked and consulted, but the animal seemed to be bored in confinement. In the end, Buckley began looking for another option.
In November 1994, Buckley, with a bank loan, bought 112 acres in Hohenwald, Tennessee. Buckley built a barn for Tarra and co-founded the Elephant Sanctuary (Hohenwald) in Tennessee, the first natural habitat refuge for sick, old and needy elephants. Today, the Elephant Sanctuary (Hohenwald) is 2,700 acres (1,100 ha), housing African and Asian elephants in three separate sections with four barns, enclosed by 20 miles (32 km) of fencing.
Elephant Aid International
In 2010, Buckley founded Elephant Aid International.
Since the founding of EAI, Buckley has spent months each year in Nepal, India, Thailand and Sri Lanka consulting on and providing elephant foot care, target training and Compassionate Elephant Management (CEM) for elephants and their mahouts, and, creating solar powered chain free corrals to get working elephants in Asia off chains.
Elephant Refuge North America (ERNA) in Attapulgus, GA
With knowledge gained from finding, creating, building and directing The Elephant Sanctuary (Hohenwald), as well as the knowledge gained from work on 'Chain Free Means Pain Free' projects and other elephant welfare projects in Asia, Buckley created Elephant Refuge North America (ERNA) in 2016. The new Elephant Refuge in North America is located in Attapulgus, Georgia a few miles north of Tallahassee Florida. Buckley chose this site because it provides elephants 850 acres of species suitable habitat to wander and explore day and night, including pastures, forests, lakes, around 50 inches rainfall year-round, mild winters, hot humid summers. In addition the site will provide live web cams for people to observe natural elephant behaviour in real time, and an international intern/education center.
- 2002 – Travels with Tarra, Tilbury House Publishers, January, ISBN 978-0-88448-241-3.
- 2006 – Just for Elephants Tilbury House Publishers, November, ISBN 978-0-88448-283-3.
- 2009 – Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog who became best friends, Putnam Juvenile, ISBN 978-0-399-25443-7. The story of an elephant and a dog and their bond. This story was broadcast on CBS News, and then featured on newscasts and internet sites around the world.
Awards and honors
- 1998 – Time for Kids "Heroes for the Planet" 
- 2012 – TARRA and BELLA chosen to represent the state of Tennessee at the 12th Annual National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. September 22–23.
- "The Kerulos Center – People". Kerulos.org. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 1, 2011. Retrieved October 28, 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Tarra the Roller Skating Elephant". Ojai History.
- "Where the elephants roam". tribunedigital-chicagotribune.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 21, 2011. Retrieved November 17, 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Honolulu Star-Bulletin Hawaii News". archives.starbulletin.com. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- "For elephants, acres to roam A Tennessee refuge awaits Phila. transplant". philly-archives.
- "O Yim, Where Art Tou?". Elephant Dreaming.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved October 28, 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Mahout & Elephant Training Initiative – Elephant Aid International". Elephantaidinternational.org. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- John R. Platt. "Unchained: Indian Elephant Rehab Center to Be a Model for Rescued Zoo Animals". Scientific American Blog Network.
- "An inside look into South Georgia's future elephant refuge". Wctv.tv. Retrieved 2017-07-25.
- "CoCre – Elephant Refuge North America". cocre.org. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- James Ritchie. "Fact or Fiction?: Elephants Never Forget". Scientific American.
- [dead link]; "New attorney easily wins DA election". Journaltimes.com. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- "Book Review – Tarra and Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends – Dad of Divas". Dadodivas.com. September 10, 2012. Retrieved July 25, 2017.