Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I am an Elephant

I'm copying this from the Philadelphia Daily News. The writer was Stu Bykofsky. This moved me to tears so I thought I would share this with whoever reads this blog.


I am an elephant

I was not born for your amusement any more than you were born for mine.

If you see me in a zoo, and especially in the circus, I am not there willingly.

I was kidnapped and carried far away from my home and my family. I might have been an adult but was more likely a baby when captured. Some hunter may have killed my mother - who could have been dangerous - and sold me to a zoo or circus as an orphan.

Elephants have large families, as you may know, each headed by a female. When a female is born into a herd she never leaves.

Do you think I cannot feel loneliness and despair?

As you may know, we elephants grieve for our dead. We mourn for our family. Being disconnected from our family is like death to us.

That is what we suffer when we are captured, and kidnapped, and sold.

I am an elephant.

I know you love seeing me, in the circus or the zoo.

I know some of you feel that, "It isn't a circus or a zoo without elephants."

You are thinking about yourself - what you want, what you like.

Please think about me.

I am an elephant.

Do you think I was born to be chained to a stake, when my spirit cries to cross vast savannas? Do you think I was made to be pushed into cramped railway cars, to be hauled around the country like furniture?

I perform for eight minutes for your pleasure, then spend endless hours in misery.

Some zoos try hard to accommodate my physical and psychological needs, but few succeed.

In Africa, my numbers are dwindling as poachers slaughter my kind for a few pounds of ivory.

Imagine killing a majestic, five-ton animal for scraps of ivory. Does that offend you sense of decency?

And yet you don't think twice about the slow death of imprisoning me in a barren cage.

You believe letting children get close to a captive elephant will make them appreciate me . Must that come at my expense? Can't they learn from videos, DVDs and web casts, without my suffering?

Can't you teach them about the dignity of living animals by leaving us alone?

When you and your children see me do a circus "trick," you are delighted.

You don't ask yourself, "How did they make that elephant stand on his head?" I never stand on my head in the wild.

Was it positive reinforcement, as Ringling says? Or, was it through abuse, as undercover videos have shown?

I am an elephant.

My second need is for physical stimulation, by walking. My long legs are built to move. I walk a dozen or more miles a day when I am free to.

No circus, and few zoos, give me what I need.

You want to see me because you love me, you say.

If you love me, don't do this to me.

I am an elephant.

Shirley and Bunny at the Elephant Sanctuary

Shirley was wild caught in Sumatra over 50 years ago,

in circuses for over 25 years, then the lone elephant at a

small zoo for over 10 years.

Bunny was wild caught in Burma almost 50 years ago. Spent

most of her life in zoos, where she developed pressure sores

all over her body from sleeping on concrete floors.

Since she has been at the Elephant Sanctuary, all her sores have healed.


Anonymous said...

This adds a new dimension to "Stop the World; I want to get off." What humans to to animals, and each other, is often quite depressing.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Saw a fantastic piece on public TV a couple weeks ago about a female elephant and her family. So touching--they cry, too.
I have a hard time with animals in captivity (for people's amusement). Fortunately, our zoo, Cincinnati Zoo and botanical gardens is known for its CREW program--breeding endangered animals to return to nature. Many times the animals are "off exhibit" to breed withut disturbances and I almost get more satisfaction seeing that sign, because I know that's the greatest goal.

possumlady said...

Yes, I too have a hard time with zoos. I'm also starting to realize that there are some animals that really should not be kept in captivity, and elephants are one of them. I went to my first (and only) circus when I was 10 years old. I felt so bad for the animals that I vowed to never go to another circus again.