Tag Archives: elephant

Ringling Bros Announces the Retirement of All Their Performing Elephants

5 Mar
Ringlings Elephants

Ringling’s Elephants

The surprise announcement today by Feld Entertainment to the Associated Press to phase out the elephant acts in the Ringling Bros Circus was HUGE. First and foremost, for the elephants. In the next three years they’ll all retire as a herd to Feld’s Elephant Conservation Center located in Central Florida, where they already have 29 elephants. The company has cited growing pressure from activists as one of the reasons for the decision, stating that the money they’ve spent to defend themselves and fight legislation could go towards taking care of the elephant’s retirement instead. They’ve recognized that the elephants are aging, and that public scrutiny can no longer be ignored. Feld also stated that since multiples towns and counties across the country have ordinances against bullhooks and wild performing animals, it’s increasingly difficult to organize its Ringling tours.

So, is it possible that the Feld family actually does care about elephants? I can only hope that the Ringling elephants aren’t eventually forced to perform at the “conservation” center, which Feld would like to ultimately open to the public. With the announcement today though, they have the potential to encourage other circuses with performing elephants to retire their elephants as well. The smaller shows don’t have a ready-made conservation center to send their elephants to, but there are two fine sanctuaries in the USA that may be interested in helping. Feld’s decision sends a powerful message, the mindset is surely changing. Thanks also in part to the HBO documentary “Apology to Elephants”, which could be compared to “Blackfish” about captive whales at SeaWorld.

For now though, this is a major win for the elephants. It’s also a win for all the people that have helped make this happen. Activism works. Ringling acknowledges that the protests are at every show, they’re growing larger, and have affected ticket sales. Public perception is changing. Activism is the reason for the bullhook bans and performing wild animals ordinances, it’s the reason for the lawsuits, and it’s the reason public perception is indeed changing. PETA has certainly played a major role as well, as they’ve been investigating and protesting Ringling Bros for 35 years. But average people like me that have a passion for elephants have also helped make a difference. This win is for me, and for all the people that stood for hours at a protest, signed a petition, wrote letters and emails, called legislators, attended council meetings, spread awareness on social media, passed out flyers, and did anything they could to inform and educate the truth about circus elephants. Today, we celebrate. CONGRATULATIONS and Thank You!

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Happy World Elephant Day

12 Aug

Don’t buy or sell ivory.

Don’t go to the circus if it features elephants, or any other captive performing wild animals.

Don’t support elephant rides.

Don’t go to zoos.

Don’t hire, or support, live elephants for special events.

Don’t support working elephants in popular tourist locations, such as babies playing in the surf, elephants begging, or doing tricks.

Happy World Elephant Day 2014

Happy World Elephant Day

 

Mourning the loss of two great Tuskers in Africa, killed by poachers.

22 Jun

Two iconic and well known jumbo elephants in Africa have been killed by poachers for their ivory tusks. These majestic elephants known as Mountain Bull and Satao, were known as Tuskers with Satao thought to be the largest elephant in Africa. Both were studied by conservationists, both were under 46 yrs old and both were survivors of previous poaching attacks. Sadly, both also ended up being killed by poisonous spears, which took several weeks to slowly and painfully cause their demise. All for the illegal ivory trade – blood ivory.

Mountain Bull was killed in Mt. Kenya National Park in May, and he was very well known and studied. In 2012 his tusks were cut down, in order to make him less desirable for poachers. The study of his migration routes assisted conservationists in developing a safe route for wildlife to pass from Mt. Kenya to Lewa and Samburu, without conflicting with human development. His acceptance and use of the new trail led to over 2,000 other elephants following the path. For the past 8 years he had a GPS collar tracking him by Save The Elephants, which alarmed the organization when they noticed it had stopped moving. The search team from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy found his body, with his tusks removed. He had survived at least one previous poaching attack, which left 6 bullets in his body. The loss of Mountain Bull was a shock and has deeply affected all that knew him. He was also featured on the CBS Evening News and CBS Sunday Morning regarding the poaching crisis in Africa. Their video report on his death can be found HERE. Mountain Bull was only 46 years old.

Photo Credit Lewa Wildlife Conservacy

Mountain Bull – Photo Credit Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Mountain Bull - Photo Credit Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Mountain Bull – Photo Credit Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

 

With the despair and frustration of Mountain Bull’s death still on many minds, the news of the great tusker Satao’s death was like blow to the body that you never feel you’ll fully recover from. Satao was thought to be the largest elephant in Africa, with his tusks almost reaching he ground.  He was from the Tsavo East National Park. Due to the size of his tusks he was under almost constant watch by the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Tsavo Trust. But sadly, the good guys can’t be everywhere all the time and poachers were able to spear him. The Tsavo Trust located his carcass on June 2, 2014.  Several months prior to that he was found with spear wounds, which luckily were treated in time for the poison to kill him.

 

I first heard of Satao earlier this year through a blog post by Mark Deeble, a wildlife filmaker in Africa. His blog post here talks about his observance of Satao and how his habits had changed in recent months. As Satao came across elephant carcasses in his travels, he most certainly realized that since their tusks were missing, that his may be a target as well. He would move through the bush in zig zag patterns, waiting and watching, and not trying to hide his body but rather hiding his tusks. It is highly possible that he knew his fate, and he was right. Satao was only 45 years old.

Satao. Photo: Richard Moller -Tsavo Trust

Satao. Photo: Richard Moller -Tsavo Trust

 

Satao. Photo: Mark Deeble

Satao. Photo: Mark Deeble

 

It is thought that the remaining tuskers are all in Kenya. A petition was started demanding the Kenyan President declare presidential protection for the remaining few, which would provide round the clock protection for them. President Kenyatta has yet to comment.

The source of poaching is directly caused by the demand for ivory, mostly in China. The majority of the buyers don’t even realize the crisis of poaching, and most have no idea if the ivory they’re purchasing is white ivory or blood ivory (recently poached ivory). The better their economy improves, which is steadily improving, the greater the demand. In addition, the true and traditional artform culture of carving ivory, which goes back 2,000 years, has been deemed a national intangible heritage in China. For those and other reasons, it’s undeniably an uphill battle. The chain of people from the poacher to the buyer of an ivory trinket or carving is rather long, and everyone is making money. For the poachers themselves, it’s an opportunity to make sums of money that they never have a chance of otherwise. So much that they’re willing to risk their lives for it. Everyone else in between is involved in corruption, and are helping to fund terrorist organizations and human trafficking rings.

My heart is with Kenya, and the rest of the continent as they’re losing elephants on a daily basis. The demand for ivory will cause the extinction of the African elephant if something doesn’t change. No…..not something, everything.

 

My foster elephant Edo, a great success of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

23 Dec
Edo - Photo from The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Edo – Photo from The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

In 2004 I was trying to think of a thoughtful Christmas gift for my teenage daughter, and I remembered The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust offered a Christmas foster program. Since I’ve been an elephant lover since I was a child, both of my children have been raised with elephant awareness and have appreciated my “obsession” with them. In fact, all three of us have elephant tattoo’s now – but that will be another blog soon.

Christmas 2004 I browsed through the Trust’s website to select an elephant to foster. There were many infants that had been recently rescued, and many toddlers as well. All so adorable, and all with heartbreaking stories about why they were there. The decision was becoming harder and harder the more I read. Knowing that any donation helps the entire Trust, I decided to search for an ele that made some sort of a family connection with us. After eventually reading every profile, I was drawn to Edo. Beginning with his name, Edo was also a restaurant in our town that we frequented as a family. We had a lot of good memories there (it is now closed) so his name drew my attention. Edo was 15 yrs old, similar to my daughters age, so I imagined her and him “growing up” together. He is also a strong survivor and a true testament to the incredible work The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust does.  His story is amazing, and as they say – an elephant never forgets. He returns to the stockades to visit the orphans and keepers, and oh how I wish I could meet him one day. Going to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is #1 on my bucket list!

Exerpts from Edo’s profile, which can be found HERE:

Edo is the son of Emily, the elder sister to the now famous Echo, the star of many books and films. Emily was the Matriarch of the unit known for Scientific purposes as The E Group, but sadly she died as a result of foraging in the rubbish pit of a nearby Safari Lodge, and in amongst the peelings of fruit and vegetables, which were the draw in the first place, were bottle-tops, broken glass, torch cells and even an ash-tray, all of which she ingested, and were revealed in amongst the stomach contents during a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death. Edo, her calf, was 6 months at the time, having been born in March 1989.

Edo was rescued by the Trust…
He was lifted out of the car, and collapsed in a heap on the ground, apparently too weak to even stand. Clearly, he no longer had even the will to try and live, so we sent for the other orphans, who surrounded him. Dika touched his face gently with a trunk, and then a miracle took place before our very eyes – Edo opened glazed eyes, and a spark of recognition ignited them. We offered Dika a bottle of milk, which he downed gratefully, then another, and another, watched all the while by Edo. With the help of the Keepers Edo was then lifted to his feet, and like Dika, offered a bottle of milk, which he drank hungrily and gratefully. In all, he took 6 pints straight off, and would have liked more, but we knew that this would be dangerous on a starved stomach. He was nevertheless visibly much stronger, and calmly accompanied the other orphans to their noon mudbath, where hordes of visitors anxiously awaited their arrival.

Amazingly, Edo had no fear of the humans, having been used to the attentions of the monitoring Scientists ever since birth. He watched the other orphans romping in the mudbath, and playing with the football, and although he did not want to be part of such frivolity, he merely stood aside and made no attempt to escape. From that day on Edo, never looked back, and very soon was again the playful youngster of yore, completing his infancy in the Nursery along with his peers, and eventually moving with them to begin the re-integration back into the Tsavo East elephant population, as do all our orphans.

Edo last returned to the stockades in February 2008 for a visit. I check the Trust’s website on a regular basis, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. They’re very good about posting updates daily, with photos and sometimes video. I am hoping to one day see a post about Edo coming for a visit.

Since 2004 I have fostered Edo every year as a Christmas gift for my daughter. She is now an adult, married, with a career, but it is something I will always do for as long as I can.  One of the first few years, I went on the website and printed out all of the material I could about Edo and the Trust and put it in a nice 3 ring binder. So she has something she can pull out every year and look at. I also print out the foster certificate you receive when you commit to foster and give it to her to put in the binder. The joy we receive is nothing compared to the joy that the good people at the Trust must experience every time they nurse a baby back to health, and reintroduce them back into the herds. I wish I could do more, but I know that I am not alone in the will to help any elephant, any way, I can.

For anyone interested in fostering an elephant, please visit the Trust’s website at www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org

Holiday cheers to all,

~ LT

A note to my local news station about the circus being in town

25 Nov

I was so irritated this week watching my local news station promote the Cole Bros Circus being in town, I couldn’t help but drop them a little note on Facebook. I didn’t even care if it got any “Likes” or “Comments”, I just hoped that someone there would read it. Because not only did they report about it, but the correspondents would add their 2 cents by saying “I can’t wait to go” or “we’re going on Saturday”..further encouraging people to go. Below is my post:

“In the 1800’s, before science and studies, it was acceptable to enslave and beat animals in circuses. Today it is not. Cole Bros has already been fined by the USDA for violating the AWA (Animal Welfare Act) for the abuse of their elephants, yet every day this week you have advertised and interviewed Cole Bros and encouraged viewers to support them. On Friday, one of your on air correspondents even stated that he “loved elephants and can’t wait to see them at the circus” – what an oxymoron! No one that “loves” elephants would ever support an elephant in a circus. It is a fact that elephants will die in less than half of their intended life span if they do not have thousands of miles to roam. It is a fact that young female elephants require mothers and aunts to raise them until 16-18 years old (just like humans), it is a fact that elephants do not perform “tricks” 2 times a day on command without being beaten until their spirit is broken and regularly subjected to bullhooks (which are also banned and illegal). Wild animals in circuses are getting banned all over the world, for just some of the reasons I just stated. Not mentioned is also the problem of TB spreading throughout circuses, the horrible travel schedule and conditions, and the risk of a wild animal going rogue and killing people. Elephants are an endangered species – Asian and African – and deserve to be free. There is more than enough scientific evidence about elephants now to prove that what circuses are doing to them is wrong – they live a miserable slave life and are guaranteed an early death sentence. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with a circus that does not use wild animals, they can survive without them, i.e. Cirque du Soleil. It is disappointing that a news organization would establish such ignorance to encourage the support of a traveling circus with wild animals. Your 10 minutes of entertainment costs an animal her entire lifetime.”

While the TV station was doing a live remote in front of the elephants, they state that they have a two 5 year old’s that perform, and a one year old that doesn’t perform yet. I can only imagine the hell she’s going through getting trained.

Please – if the circus is ever in your town, DON’T GO. Do not support acts of abuse, do not teach your children that it’s OK to treat animals that way, and that animals are not meant to amuse and entertain us.  Elephants are, in fact, an endangered species. Nature will have played no part in their extinction, it is 100% the result of human beings – due to poaching, enslavement and encroachment.

~ LT

Alec Baldwin Urges Boycott of Ringling Bros and Circuses That Use Wild Animals

19 Mar

Award winning actor and animal rights activist Alec Baldwin released a video for PETA urging people to boycott Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus and other circuses that use wild animals.  The almost four minute long video exposes Ringling Bros. cruel treatment of their elephants, which has been well documented over the years. The star of NBC’s hit comedy 30 Rock pleads with viewers to not only boycott the circus but to also understand the natural habitat and needs of a wild elephant versus the cruel life an elephant leads in captivity with a traveling circus.

“The amount of suffering those elephants go through in order to entertain anyone’s 5 years old for fifteen minutes is a crime”
Dr. Mel Richardson, Veterinarian with 40 Years Experience with Elephants

It’s been proven that elephants in circuses develop arthritis, suffer psychological damage, live in unnatural conditions and have a much shorter life span. Their lives are spent being trained and corrected with brutal and painful training equipment, they’re forced to perform despite their health, they’re in confined storage places chained at the foot, they endure extensive travel in small poorly ventilated boxcars, they’re subject to diseases such as tuberculosis and they’re denied the social companionship that elephants naturally depend on.

Alec Baldwin: Boycott Circuses That Use Animals

Baldwin has been an animal rights activist and PETA supporter for many years. In November 2000 he appeared on a celebrity edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and won $250,000 which he donated to PAWS. He’s a card-carrying member of PETA and narrated the PETA video Meet Your Meat

He joins a long list of celebrities that advocate for elephants including Cher, Bob Barker, Cloris Leachman, Ricky Gervais, Calvin Klein, Sarah Ferguson, Tommy Hilfiger, Sophie Dahl, Lily Tomlin, Gisele Bundchen, James Franco, Jada Pinkett Smith, Kathy Griffin and Billy Bob Thornton, among others I’ve failed to name.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Animal Defenders International introduced the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act, H.R. 3359 to amend the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to restrict the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses and traveling exhibitions. Please, contact your member of congress today and urge him/her to support and co-sponsor HR 3359, the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act. It’s very simple and only takes a moment. Everything you need, talking points and sample letters, are right here on this action page.

http://www.breakthechainus.com

http://www.federalcircusbill.com

 

Donald Trump Jr proud to pose with dead elephant, other African animals

14 Mar

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Shame on the Trump boys. Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump proudly posed for photos with dead wild animals, rifles and knives when they were in Zimbabwe, Africa in March 2011. Particularly disturbing is a photo of Donald Trump Jr. with a dead elephant, holding the elephants severed tail in one hand and a knife in the other. He makes no apologies for it either.

“I have no shame about the pics. I HUNT & EAT game … I’m a hunter, for that I make no apologies”

Donald Trump Jr. – Twitter

DTJ

Donald Trump, Jr. holding a severed elephant's tail

The brothers went to Africa and killed the animals legally through a hunting safari company. Trump Jr. has been sarcastically defending himself on twitter at @DonaldJTrumpjr but I don’t believe he realizes what the slaughter of an elephant does to the elephant family it’s a part of. It’s been proven that elephants live in social circles, communicate with each other, exhibit emotions similar to human beings and they mourn their dead. Purposely walking into their “house” and killing one of their own requires a total lack of compassion and empathy. Although the slaughters are legal, what does it say about one’s character that chooses to do it?

The disturbing photos can be viewed in a YouTube video here:

The release of the photos has brought much attention from animal rights groups across the country, including PETA, with a post about it here.  Jack Carone of the group In Defense of Animals stated “Would any intelligent person feel moved to murder a magnificent elephant, then further insult and desecrate by hacking off his/her tail as an additional gesture of dominance? Privilege has clearly not bought them the sensitivity or wisdom needed to view the world as anything but their personal playground, including the imagined entitlement to end the lives of sensitive and social animals for mere amusement. This is truly a pitiful testimony to their lack of character and compassion, at the ultimate expense of their innocent fellow Earthlings.”

Their father, Donald Trump, commented on the situation almost immediately stating to TMZ, “My sons love hunting. They’re hunters and they’ve become good at it. I am not a believer in hunting and I’m surprised they like it.”

Donald Trump Jr. is currently starring in his father’s show “The Celebrity Apprentice”, a reality TV shows that raises money for charities by pitting washed up celebrities against each other. Some people are using social media to encourage others to boycott the show and to contact it’s advertisers and request them to pull their ads.

I certainly won’t be watching.

Elephant lovers call to action, can you spare a few clicks?

11 Mar

We’ve come a long way since the 1800’s, right? When I say we, I mean most of the world. A rather disturbing exception would be traveling circuses that still use performing elephants, and other endangered species. Not much research was done on elephant behavior back in the 1800’s, so the ignorance can be forgiven. It can’t be forgiven today, and it is beyond ignorance at this point. It’s more like deliberate denial of the facts for the sake of a dollar. Sadly, it’s the animals that are living with the consequences.

It’s common knowledge now that elephants are social animals, require miles to roam to stay healthy and display true emotions very similar to human beings. And lets not forget, that an elephant never forgets. The life of a circus elephant is in contrast to it’s natural purpose. They’re beaten, confined, separated, restricted from exercise, demeaned, humiliated, forced to perform a grueling schedule and forced to work when they’re ill. Studies have proven that the life of a circus elephant is about half of what it should be. The psychological damage that is done is permanent for the rest of the elephant’s life.

Bob Barker in Support of H.R. 3359. Courtesy ADI

It doesn’t have to be this way. Animal Defenders International introduced the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act, H.R. 3359 to amend the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to restrict the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses and traveling exhibitions. The bill was introduced by Congressman James Moran (D-VA) and needs additional congressional support. It’s specifically targeted at ending the use of exotic wild animals in traveling circus acts. It will not affect zoos, rodeos or permanent animal shows.

Please, contact your member of congress today and urge him/her to support and co-sponsor HR 3359, the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act. It’s very simple and only takes a moment. Everything you need, talking points and sample letters, are right here on this action page.

And If the circus is coming to your town, don’t go!

Still need a reason to help out?
Take a look at this PETA investigation in the Ringling Bros circus abuse of elephants. In November 2011 Ringling was fined by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) $270,000 for violating the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the largest fine in history. Ringling has a history of fines with the USDA yet continually denies the allegations. Undercover investigations and whistle blowers have proved otherwise:

Mother Jones found in a year-long investigation that the USDA has conducted over a dozen investigations of Ringling Bros (Feld Entertainment), and yet regulators have not acted on their findings of abuse. A former head of the animal care unit in the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said that with a limited budget, the agency was unable to prosecute many cases.

Again, please take a moment to write your representative in Congress. Detail information on the bill:

http://www.breakthechainus.com

http://www.federalcircusbill.com

An African Love Story – by Dame Daphne Sheldrick

7 Mar
Daphne Sheldrick

An African Love Story

After supporting and following the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for the past 10 years, I was more than thrilled to hear of Dame Daphne Sheldrick’s plans to write an autobiography. Appropriately titled, “An African Love Story – Love, Life and Elephants”, Sheldrick eloquently brings readers along an amazing journey from childhood through today, with an incredible story only someone of her rare privilege could possibly tell.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust fosters baby elephants and rhinos in Tsavo National Park in Nairobi, Kenya. The babies fall victim to parental loss due largely to poaching, or some other human created death. They’re nursed to health at the orphanage and then eventually released back into the wild.

The book was released in the UK on March 1st, and is available in the USA by clicking here: http://www.thedswt.org.uk/LLE.html

Proceeds from the book purchased using the above link will go direct to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.


An excellent article about Daphne Sheldrick in The Telegraph:

The woman who fosters elephants in Kenya – Telegraph.

Worth the read…she is truly one of the world’s most remarkable women.

If you’re interested in fostering an elephant, contact the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for more information.

Jada Pinkett Smith urges SRB to protect elephants

6 Mar
Jada Pinkett Smith

Jada Pinkett Smith

Jada Pinkett Smith urges SRB to protect elephants – baltimoresun.com.

The more voices, the better!

If the circus is coming to your town, take a look at these few sites before you consider going:

http://motherjones.com/environment/2011/10/ringling-bros-elephant-abuse

http://www.ringlingbeatsanimals.com/

How you can help:

http://breakthechainus.com/

Chained elephant photo by Animal Welfare Institute, Washington, DC

Chained elephant photo by Animal Welfare Institute, Washington, DC

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