"If anyone wants to know what elephants are like, they are like people only more so." -Pierre Corneille.
Category Archives: Research & Education
In just one short week we will finally be on our way to Thailand. This trip is all about elephants, and we'll be spending our time volunteering at two different sanctuaries where captive elephants rescued from lives filled with hard labor and mental and physical abuse have an opportunity to spend their days in as natural a state as possible.
"The Task Force consists primarily of lay people with little to no prior expertise regarding the Earth's largest terrestrial animal." Excerpt from the Final Report of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephant Task Force.
In April 2012 I wrote a post about the harassment and raids at two highly respected animal sanctuaries in Thailand, Elephant Nature Park and Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand. With less than a month to go before we embark on our adventure to to the country, I wanted to write a follow-up post to unravel what has proven to be a very convoluted sequence of events and find out whatever became of the confiscated animals and the criminal charges.
"Much of what we've talked about this evening, and much of what we've talked about at previous meetings, is really from the Zoo's perspective. I would think that one of the most powerful ways to further [the Zoo's mission statement regarding] education is by not losing sight of the fact that we are also talking about particular animals at the Zoo currently in an exhibit that is arguably inadequate." -Annette Laico (Woodland Park Zoo Elephant Task Force Member).
Four slides showing the dramatically different amounts of space available to Watato, Bamboo, and Chai at Woodland Park Zoo versus what would be available for them at The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennesee. For decades these three elephants have had only the same tiny one-acre unchanged exhibit to call home. At The Elephant Sanctuary they would have 2,700 acres.
If Woodland Park Zoo President Deborah Jensen is to be believed, the Zoo and its elephant exhibit are all that stand between wild elephants surviving as a species and their ultimate extinction. Because to save them we must enslave them.
Not ten minutes into the second meeting of the Woodland Park Zoo's Elephant Task Force on May 28th and it was becoming sadly clear what direction things were heading, and what that meant in regards to saving the zoo's three elephants, Bamboo, Watoto, and Chai.
“I would say that volunteering and seeing the world can be so eye opening and life changing if you allow it to be. You need to always keep an open mind and put in the time and effort to meet new people and become close with them because that is how your views change and you start to see things in a different way.” -Emma Yuh Coleman
Its face hacked off while still alive and conscious, left to die a slow and immeasurably painful death; it's difficult to watch, I'll admit that. But it's also necessary. People need to understand in the starkest terms what is taking place day in and day out in the name of greed.