The KOTA Foundation for Elephants

is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the US and Kenya dedicated to educating people about elephants as a way to support positive outcomes for their survival


About Us

Based on the belief that:

You won't fight for what you don't care about

Did you know?

  • That the US is #2 (behind China) in the demand for illegal ivory?
  • That elephants can "hear through their feet?"
  • That every single elephant has a story and we can't wait to share them with you...

These are just some of the things that we think you should know. Find out more about who we are:



Why Elephants Matter

Elephant EyeWe get asked all the time what our fascination is with elephants. I mean why get so worked up about an animal that doesn’t even have a natural home on the continent we live on? Why not stand up for starving children, the elderly, war, conflict or famine?

The answer is: We are

Why Elephants Matter

Inzeku Children’s Project

Irechelo StudentKOTA has partnered with the Inzeku Children's Project (which stands for Elephant) in which we teach about the importance of African Elephant's to rural areas in Kenya that are also located in high human/elephant conflict zones. However, after a recent visit we discovered that the six schools in our project desperately needed desks. We asked ourselves, how can young students learn important subjects, any subjects, when so many of them have to sit on a muddy, wet floor.

We leapt into action and raised enough money to buy the first 150 desks but this is only the beginning. Each desk costs only $15 US dollars and fits two children per desk because that is how far the US dollar goes in a poor country like Kenya. Help us by purchasing one desk each. If every person who reads this purchased only one desk at $15 we could buy enough desks for all six schools!

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The KOTA Lesson Plans

Debbie Ethell with elephant bone

Debbie Ethell showing young students the importance of an elephant bone.

The KOTA Foundation for Elephants team has put together our first set of lesson plans from kindergarten through eighth grade. Our intention is to inspire kids to learn science by using elephants as a tool to teach.

We think elephants are a powerful way to grab a student's attention. The Portland school system has been incredibly supportive of this project and we have no doubt about the impact that this will make. We are currently in the testing phase but will be unveiling the lesson plans soon so that all schools will have an unique opportunity to learn about science in a different way.

KOTA Lesson Plans

The Elephant Angel Project

Elephant Angel

We envision a world where all people in Kenya, even in the remotest areas, hold the power to create opportunity for themselves. We intend to help them do that because...

" can’t save the elephants if you don’t save the people."

Our Elephant Angel Project is a local Kenyan community project in which we are working together with Global Village Resources to identify a trade that an underprivileged community can implement without depleting the surrounding natural resources.

Elephant Angel Project

Oregon Becomes the 6th State to Ban Ivory!!!

Oregon just became the 6th state to ban ivory in the US.

In January 2018 Oregon became the 6th state to ban ivory in the US.

The KOTA Foundation for Elephants was one of the endorsers of Ballot Measure 100 - the Save Endangered Animals Oregon campaign that Oregonians voted on in the November 2016 election.

“Save Endangered Animals Oregon is proud to work alongside The KOTA Foundation for Elephants as a key member of our coalition to save endangered animals, and we encourage anyone who cherishes elephants to learn more about their work." - Kristin Leppert, United States Humane Society Campaign Director for Save Endangered Animals Oregon

We did it! Ballot Measure 100 passed with flying colors in the state of Oregon with a 70% majority making Oregon the sixth state to ban Ivory. Together with our neighbors, Washington and California we have successfully locked down the west coast and sent a strong message that we are working hard to Stop the Demand!

Ballot Measure 100 helped 12 highly-trafficked species from turtles to lions, elephants to sharks saving them from poaching, cruelty and the threat of extinction.

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KOTA Press

We will speak anytime, anywhere about elephants.

"Our group clearly enjoyed Debbie Ethell's presentation on the lives of wild African elephants. Her enthusiasm and passion on the subject were both educational and stimulating. I certainly came away with a greater appreciation of how complex, intelligent and compassionate wild elephants are."  -Michael Naughton, President of Central East Portland Rotary

See The KOTA Foundation's latest news article:

Click on the button below to see all of our television and newspaper interviews.

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The KOTA Foundation for Elephants on Twitter

The KOTA Foundation Blog

Removed from Complicity

I recently gave a talk about ivory in a local (Oregon) community. Somewhere in my 30 minutes on stage I felt several members of the crowd begin to turn against me. This had never happened to me before. As soon as it was over I was approached by several (very agitated) guests. One of them

Deep River and the History of ivory in the US – Part II

(Click here to read Deep River – Part I) In the mid to late 1800s the part of Connecticut referred to as the Queen of the Valley had risen to become the largest manufacturer of ivory in the world. Pratt, Read and Co. was set up in Deep River with their main competitor Comstock, Cheney

Deep River and the History of Ivory in the US – Part I

“If Americans are going to condemn others for trading in ivory they should at least know their own history,” – Marta Daniels, Freelance Journalist and Historian. Deep River is a sleepy little quintessential town in Connecticut. From the outside it looks innocent enough. Situated just two hours outside of New York it has become a

Global March for Elephants and Rhinos

The 2016 Global March for Elephants and Rhinos is right around the corner. This year The KOTA Foundation has been asked to be one of the main presenters at this event in Portland, Oregon. There are over 126 cities marching on September 24 so go to the Global March for Elephants website to look for

The “Soul of the Elephant”

Two of the most remarkable researchers I have ever known (well I don’t know them personally but I admire them greatly) are Dereck and Beverly Joubert of the Great Plains Foundation. Recently on “Ellen” they spoke about their latest documentary “Soul of the Elephant.” It is one of the best I have ever seen and

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