Every day we receive messages about how captive elephants are being treated, often with disturbing photos or video footage. A mission of ElephantVoices is to promote responsibility for securing a kinder future for elephants. Our aim is to do this is primarily through education – by inspiring wonder in the intelligence, complexity and voices of elephants – rather than jumping on one campaign after another. We are a small team and we are not able to take on individual battles for each and every elephant. But sometimes we feel compelled to make our opinions known and below is an example. It’s a letter to journalist, Robert Wilonsky in The Dallas Observer e-mailed today, as a response to his request for Joyce to comment on video footage
(linked below) of elephants in Africam Safari Zoo in Mexico where the Dallas Zoo plans to send their elephant Jenny.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/il_rCzJrZ0U" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
The music is hauntingly beautiful and put to the swaying of confined elephants brought tears to my eyes. Why do we humans feel such a need to confine and control other animals? Is our pleasure in seeing them worth the cruelty that we inflict on them? Elephants are intelligent socially complex individuals who have the same basic needs that we have: Freedom and autonomy, companionship and affection, just to name a few.
The first elephant in the video looks very unhealthy; she is too thin; all of the elephants in the video are swaying – a behavior only seen in confined elephants. Like so many captive elephants they are bored and frustrated with nowhere to go and no one to see, no new smells to investigate and nothing to strive for. The result is standing in one place and rocking, slowly losing their minds. Well, wouldn’t we do the same given similar circumstances? I often try to put myself in the elephants’ shoes, so to speak. Ever had to stand for hours and hours alone waiting for that bus that never comes? Feet and back aching? I, too, start to step from one foot to the other. I, too, rock back and forth, I sway. But I don’t wait for a bus for days, for weeks, for months, for years. I have the freedom to choose to go.
We need to wake up to the reality of what we are doing to other creatures and stop hiding behind a lot of constructed arguments for keeping elephants in this way.
Jenny should go to a sanctuary.
Regards, Joyce Poole