Q: Do you really expect to stop all poaching and hunting of elephants?
A: Yes. There are enough people around the world who are outraged by the genocide and are willing to place pressure on world leaders, criminals and hunters so that we can achieve our goal of zero poaching and hunting of elephants.
Q: Why does Elephant Rescue dislike the word “ivory”?
A: The word ivory is an ancient marketing ploy and euphemism for elephant tusk. It’s the body part of an elephant, not ivory, nor is it a commodity.
Q: What are the Elephant Manager’s Association (EMA) and the International Elephant Foundation (IEF)?
A: Austin For Cruelty Free Entertainment says, “Both [EMA and IEF] are industry organizations with close ties to circuses and elephant trainers who continue to use bullhooks. The EMA and the IEF each have a board of directors on which more than half of the members represent facilities that use bullhooks, including circuses and elephant ride providers.”
We have graphic, photographic evidence of baby elephants being tied up and tortured with bullhooks by circus workers. We have also seen a hole that was worn into an elephant’s left hip with a bullhook and that open wound was constantly prodded by the bullhook, cruelly forcing the elephant to perform.
Some people feel that the EMA and the IEF are similar to foxes guarding the hen house.
Q: What is the AZA and are you a member?
A: We are not associated with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). We feel that anyone who sees the documentary, Blackfish, will understand.
The AZA condones keeping elephants in areas that are far too small and cold where winter blizzards occur dependably, bringing sub-zero temperatures. However, elephants are in danger at 50 degrees or colder. So they must be sequestered in heated barns for the winter months; these barns may seem big to us yet they are horribly restrictive for them.
We know of one elephant who was taken from her parents while a baby, which is enough to cause death from emotional trauma for an elephant. She may have also witnessed her parents being killed. She has lived in two acres – or less – for 65 years, which is tantamount to a human living in a small apartment and never being able to leave; and, then, when winter arrives, living in a bathroom with the heater turned on for warmth.
Imagine being taken from your parents while an infant, then forced to live in a tiny apartment for the next 65 years and never being allowed to go outside. And, in the winter, your only source of heat was the bathroom heater.
That elephant who has endured 65 years of confinement has lived on a concrete floor, which has ruined her feet. And, her small “exhibit” area has prevented her from exercising fully, which has contributed to agonizing arthritic conditions.
In order for elephants to adequately exercise their, heart, lungs and lymph nodes, they must have thousands of acres in which to roam in the fresh air with their families. It is not uncommon for a family to walk 10 or 15 miles and, in some cases, they may walk up to 30 miles in a single day.
Yet in confinement, they are extremely susceptible to tuberculosis. An elephant’s recovery from tuberculosis is rare and, once diagnosed with it disease, it almost certainly terminal. Insufficient roaming space also often causes adolescent arthritis that may become catastrophic requiring euthanasia. And, as we have mentioned, confinement often requires elephants to live on a concrete floor, which ruins their feet.
Elephants are also often shipped from location to location for forced breeding. These trips are arduous for elephants and can imperil their mental and physical health.
It is not uncommon for elephants who are living in captivity to constantly rock from side to side or continuously nod their heads; this is severe neurotic behavior and a reaction to the thoroughly alien, unnatural environment and requirements placed upon them.
These, and many more reasons are why we are respectfully not associated with the AZA.
Q: Why not place elephants in captivity for their protection?
A: Elephants must have thousands of acres in which to roam freely with their blood relatives.
They walk with their families 20 hours each day and sleep only 4 hours. So, they usually walk 10 or 15 miles each day; and, sometimes they may roam 30 miles in a single day.
Yet, because of the unbroken monotony of confined spaces, many elephants begin rocking back and forth, a sign of acute mental anguish, which often becomes a long-lasting neurotic condition. The inability to cope with this alien, unnatural confinement and the absence of the environment from which they have adapted over millennia create the impossibility of their mental health.
Elephants are routinely sent to captive conditions that are climatically unsuitable where they must endure severe cold, forcing them to live in a small heated barn all winter.
And, one must consider that they are significantly more intimate to their kin than humans and, therefore, have a yearning to live in close knit families, which is impossible in captivity. They are unlike dogs or cats who posses little sense of family after weaning.
For example, mothers never leave their daughters for their entire life. So, grandmothers, mothers, daughters and granddaughters rarely, if ever, leave each other’s presence. The males, known as bulls, are more independent. Their job is to protect their families and lead them to food and water.
However, captivity separate families forever, which is, in itself, living death for elephants. Indeed, many elephants who are confined to captivity witnessed the murder of their families by hunters who then transported them from their range homes in the wild to unnatural, alienating conditions.
Moreover, some captures use horribly cruel bull hooks on elephants which punctures their skin; others immobilize them with legs chains for extended periods; many provide only concrete to walk upon, which ruins their feet, and all confine them in spaces that are tiny by elephant standards.
Q: Aren’t zoos a good source of entertainment and education?
A: Elephants are not commodities that can be bought and sold. They are not here to entertain us; although we may be “entertained” by watching them, this is not their purpose. Neither are they here for our education. The average student knows more about dinosaurs than elephants without having ever seen so much as a photograph of one.
Please allow us to emphasize that elephants are not a commodity. They are autonomous, living personalities who deserve the freedom to live in peace with their families. For elephants do not care for clothes, cars, money, jewelry, houses, vacations and most of the things humans crave.
They only care about one thing – their families.
And, zoos always separate elephants from their families, which can, literally, cause their deaths from a broken heart.
What is more, zoos always educate improperly. They send the message that elephants (1) are a commodity that can be bought and sold, (2) that they can be imprisoned for life without regard to their feelings, (3) that they can be separated from their families without severe emotional, psychological damage, (4) that they can endure many hours in chains without emotional degradation and danger to their health, (5) be subject to dangerous tranquilizer shots, (6) dangerously hoisted by cranes, (7) forced on journeys lasting thousands of miles in which they spend many days in adverse, filthy conditions, jeopardizing their health, (8) that elephants can live in zoos without a high probability of contacting tuberculosis, a common zoo ailment, from which they rarely recover, (9) and can be kidnapped from their natural environment for human amusement.
Q: Why not place elephants in circuses where they’ll be safe?
A: Circuses place unnatural, unrealistic demands on elephants. Trainers often use cruel bull hooks, eclectic shocks and beatings to break their will.
We have photographic and testimonial documentation of a baby elephant being chained by all four legs, stretched in spread eagle position until he was unable to move and tortured with electric shocks. All this was done to force his behavior while children watch him for a few minutes during a so-called circus performance.
Circuses also transport elephants over long distances in cramped, unsanitary conditions. Sometimes the temperature during these transports is far too hot for their safety and other times far too cold. Upon arrival, they are kept in, small, unnatural enclosures, forced to perform against their will and transported once again like so much baggage.
Q: Don’t hunters actually help elephants by thinning the herd to avoid overpopulation? So, why does Elephant Rescue feel that it is wrong to hunt them?
A: Let’s consider what has happened in Tanzania alone.
According to the Environmental Investigative Agency (EIA), Tanzania’s elephant population was estimated to be 142,788 in 2006. Yet, EIA says that, “In 2009 it was estimated that the elephant population in Tanzania decreased to about 109,051. This downward trend has continued at an alarming rate with the most recent population survey conducted in 2013 revealing the devastating degree of decline.”
Even in Tanzania’s Selous ecosystem, which is a World Heritage Site, the “elephant population fell by 66% in just over four years from 38,975 in 2009 to 13,084 in 2013, the lowest ever recorded since 1976. In the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem, also in Tanzania, a population decline of 37% has been recorded from 31,625 in 2009 to 20,900 in 2013.” These shocking facts from Tanzania are some of the reasons the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has officially placed African elephants on the “threatened species” list.
Mindful of these disturbing facts, why would anyone want to add to this genocide by hunting elephants?
Regarding the ethicalness of hunting, one might ask, is it wrong for children to kill defenseless animals? Doing so, of course, is a sign of severe mental disorders. Therefore, why is it permissible for adults?
Moreover, hunting an elephant deprives the world of one of God’s most majestic creations and all of that elephant’s descendants, of which there could be thousands. So, hunters not only destroy an innocent, defenseless life, they also steal that life from us and stop the lineage of all the many elephants that would have been born.
It is also important to note that hunting destroys elephant families that are, by their very nature, much closer than human families. Imagine the most happy, loving, well-adjusted family you’ve known. Suppose the adults in that family were murdered while the children watched. This begins to illustrate the debilitating trauma to elephants families that have been victims of hunters.
Q: Since you are against hunting of elephants, does this mean you are against gun ownership?
A: No. In some parts of the world gun ownership is an individual right which is constitutionally protected. We do not feel this should change.
Q: Why not send in a civilian para-military operation to protect the elephants?
A: A group of prior military civilians from the United States attempted to protect the elephants in Tanzania. These men were formerly members of elite special forces units. Yet, the Tanzanian government placed so many restrictions upon them that they were unable to use tactics needed to engage and stop poachers.
Q: Why not tranquilize wild elephants and simply remove their tusks? Wouldn’t this also remove the incentive of poachers?
A: This has been attempted unsuccessfully. Poachers kill them even for the little portion of remaining tusk that surgical removal leaves in place. This is a quantitatively and logistically impractical solution. It is also painful and cruel. They need their tusk for defense, helping family members who may have fallen and many other uses.