Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Best Way to Help an Elephant

We all love elephants. We share pictures. We sign online petitions. We’re outraged when they’re abused in the circus or killed for their ivory. Some people make signs and protest when the circus comes to town or march to raise awareness. That’s great, because everything helps. But what do elephants really need the most?

Captive elephants need sanctuary and healthcare. In the wild, they need to be protected from poachers and other human/elephant conflict. This takes a lot of effort by experts. Even more than effort, it takes resources. That means money.

The best way you can help an elephant is to help provide for their care and protection. There are a variety of professionals working right now to provide that care, and they all need your donations. 

These are some of our favorites. Please consider sending them a donation whenever you can. Just click on the name of the organization.

Carol Buckley has dedicated her life to providing a safe haven for elephants. She is currently working in Asia to create chain-free corrals for working elephants. Her new project is creating a chain-free environment in India for Sunder. 

You certainly know about Raju, the elephant who was recently rescued after 50 years in chains. Wildlife SOS is caring for him at their sanctuary in India. His medical needs, food and care are quite expensive. Wildlife SOS offers a variety of monthly support levels. Even your one-time donation will be greatly appreciated.

Founded by Soraida Salwala, this is the first hospital in the world just for elephants. Working elephants in Thailand can get medical care free of charge. This is important because taking elephants away from their work is a financial burden. Two of their most famous patients and now permanent residents are Mosha and Motala. Each of them lost a leg in land mine accidents and they now walk with the help of prostheses. FAE gets no government funding, so they rely entirely on private donations to offer free medical care. You can learn more about the hospital on Twitter and Facebook.

The elephant ivory trade often leaves innocent victims, orphaned baby elephants. These babies were entirely dependent on their mothers and would normally be unable to survive. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust rescues and raises these orphans until they can be reintegrated back into the wild. You can sponsor an orphan and receive monthly updates on its progress. 

Founded by acclaimed wildlife photographer Nick Brandt, Big Life has been very successful in tracking down and arresting poachers in Kenya and Tanzania. Your help is needed to protect elephants over 2 million acres in Africa. It is said that rampant poaching will cause the extinction of the African Elephant in 10 to 20 years. Big Life Foundation is one of the best organizations working to stop this massive killing.

The ARK 2000 sanctuary in Northern California provides a safe forever home for elephants and a variety of other exotic animals rescued from the entertainment business. Founded by the late Pat Derby and her partner Ed Stewart, this is the only sanctuary in the US that provides a home for rescued bull elephants. 

This list is by no means comprehensive, but your money will be responsibly used by these organizations. Whether you choose any of these or another that you know to be reputable, we hope that you will be as generous with your financial support as you are with your time and love. Thank you for helping elephants.

Friday, December 23, 2011

I Want a Baby Elephant for Christmas

I hope you'll enjoy this poem written by my husband, John.

(written in the style of "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas*")

I want a baby elephant for Christmas
Only a baby elephant will do
Don’t want no Angry Birds, no mittens for the snow
I want a baby elephant so I can watch him grow

I want baby elephant for Christmas
Santa knows exactly what to do
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has lots of babies there
Knowing that they need my help is more than I can bear

Won’t you adopt an elephant for Christmas?
I’d really like to get one in my name
No need to get him dirty, going down the chimney flue
Just leave him there in Kenya, that’s the best thing you can do

I can hardly wait for Christmas morning
As soon as I log on my email dings
Oh, can you see the joy when I get what I want
A profile and a photo of my orphan elephant

I want a baby elephant for Christmas
Only a baby elephant will do
There’s new orphan elephants who need a home today
Pick one for you and one for me and foster them, I say

This is going to be the greatest Christmas
I won’t be getting junk bought on a whim
I’ll have a year of fostering my elephant
And knowing that he needs me to help him

Is there someone in your life who would like a baby elephant for Christmas? It's not too late to make it happen. Your fostering certificate and information packet will be sent to the recipient by email. All monthly updates as well as lovely watercolor paintings of the orphans are also sent by email. Visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to choose an elephant and make your contribution.

*“I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” was written by John Rox and performed by Gayla Peevey in 1953. This song was responsible for getting an actual hippopotamus donated to the Oklahoma City zoo. Perhaps our little parody will help deserving orphan elephants get fostered for Christmas, and all year long.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Joplin Tragedy, Elephant Exploited by Circus Promoter

On May 22, a tornado tore through Joplin, Missouri, damaging or destroying much of the town. Many people were killed or injured. Our hearts go out to all who have been affected by this tragedy. Anyone who has not been through such a disaster cannot fully imagine how it feels to have your world turned upside down in moments. All help is welcomed.

Enter Zack Garden, promoter of the Piccadilly Circus, and an elephant named Okha. They had been scheduled to perform in the local arena that was instead needed as a makeshift hospital. An offer was made by the circus to use their elephants to help clear debris. City officials declined the offer.

Instead of their arena show, performers and crew of the circus entertained small groups and handed out treats. That's a great idea. But handlers also put a harness on Okha and took her into the wreckage. The media was all around, and they just can't resist an unusual story that looks heartwarming.

Any sensible person will wear sturdy shoes and heavy work gloves while working in a debris field. You need to protect your skin from the twisted metal, shattered glass, shredded wood and broken concrete. But an elephant doesn't have gloves or shoes. Although they are known for having thick skin, it is actually as sensitive as ours. Walking on hard man-made surfaces and through the wreckage puts them at risk for cuts and scrapes. Sharp items can become embedded between their toes or in the soft pads of their feet. This causes pain, infection and lasting damage if it is not treated promptly and properly.

Watching video of this event, I see that members of the public are close to the elephant. Generally the public is kept a safe distance from elephants when they are being moved in or out of an arena. This is for protection, in case the elephant breaks away from the handler. Here the elephant is in an unfamiliar environment, being asked to pull the painfully heavy weight of a vehicle. If she would break away, people would likely trip and fall into the debris while trying to get out of her way. She is also bobbing her head, a sign of distress.

According to the promoter, the elephant worked for only two hours before they stopping. That was long enough to generate publicity for the circus. A quick search brought up 35 articles, both national and local coverage. Lots of photos and video of an elephant dragging a few things out of the rubble. It hardly matters whether or not you support keeping elephants in captivity or using them for hard work. What was really accomplished in those two hours, helping a town to clear debris or promoting the circus?

Note: Here are some ways to help the people of Joplin, MO.