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E is for Ethical

Ever since I was young, I’ve always felt sorry for elephants–way before my thoughts were ever evolved enough to contemplate the ethics of keeping such animals in captivity. I never cared for the circus (that also stems from a life-long fear of clowns)…but, for the elephants, my feelings have their roots in an elephant ride my sister and I took when we were probably around seven years old. I can’t remember where we were or why exactly we did it, but I remember distinctly my dad paying $3.00 (which I thought was a lot to pay for a ride) so Kelly and I could ride on an elephant’s back while it walked around in a ring. I remember not enjoying it and just feeling sad for the elephant. He just seemed so dejected. And this was at the same time in my life that I loved going to visit the puppies which lived in cages in pet stores and never thought twice about their horribly inadequate living conditions. Whenever I see the horses on Michigan Avenue, invariably with plumes in their mane, pulling tourists around in the traffic often in boiling hot or freezing cold weather, it brings back the same pangs of sadness I felt for that elephant.

I love the idea of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennesse which houses retired circus elephants and other abused elephants life as they were intended…to roam free in nature. The sanctuary’s official mission is as follows:

“To provide a haven for old, sick or needy elephants in a setting of green pastures, old-growth forests, spring-fed ponds and a heated barn for cold winter nights…To provide education about the crisis facing these social, sensitive, passionately intense, playful, complex, exceedingly intelligent and endangered creatures.”

I’m writing on this topic now because the Detroit Zoo just announced that they are sending Wanda and Winky to an elephant sanctuary strictly for ethical reasons, not because their facilities are particularly inadequate. This will hopefully cause other zoo and circuses to examine their own troop of elephants and finally free them. As the article on CNN.com states: “In the wild, elephants roam vast areas, live in large families, and exhibit some of the same social traits as humans such as forming friendships and mourning for their dead. ‘Elephants seem to be intelligent and even social in ways that are similar to humans,’ Kagen said. ‘Elephants can suffer from similar things to what we suffer from when we’re in difficult environments.’

Check out The Elephant Sanctuary. Hope news like this will continue.

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Miranda | May 24, 2004 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    I agree about the clowns! Plus, circus life is really dangerous.

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