Monday, August 31, 2015

The Elephant In The Room This Week!

Empty the Cages! Raising Awareness for Elephants to Build a More Compassionate Generation. Watching elephants perform may look like family fun, but for elephants and other wild animals, the experience is anything but! Join us and the voice of this video, Selma Blair, at in the fight against performing animal abuse; and keep animals where they belong, in the wild.

Born Free works tirelessly to stop the poaching of elephants for the ivory trade and the insidious trade in elephant ivory. But, elephants face yet another threat — and it’s happening right here in the U.S.

Elephants (and other captive wild animals) suffer miserably in captivity, whether it’s close zoo confinement, devoid of all their natural needs, or degrading animal performances, where they’re forced to execute abnormal tricks: an inherently abusive experience for these smart, sensitive, gentle beings who belong in the wild.

Unnatural Entertainment
Born Free has produced an insightful 30-second video (voiced by actress Selma Blair) that shines a spotlight on this utterly unnatural form of “entertainment.”
Raising Awareness for Elephants 
Elephants are not meant to be held captive. They are not meant to perform. They are not meant to balance on balls or barrels. They are not meant to stand on their heads. They are not meant to give massages, or play basketball, or catch apples in their mouths.

They are meant to be in the wild with their grandmothers, mothers, aunts, and cousins, free to live as nature intends, doing what they choose to do, each and every day.

If you care about the welfare of elephants as much as I do, share this video with as many people as you can. It’s a simple yet powerful way to raise awareness of the plight of performing elephants. Every single “view” has the power to open someone’s eyes to the heartlessness of captive performance — and to make someone think twice before supporting this exploitative practice.

Also be sure to visit out What Elephants Like website designed for all ages, because we believe it is important for parents today to talk with their children about wildlife conservation and animal welfare. It never needs to be graphic or scary, as you can see from this new website, where we also feature the book What Elephants Like in animated, print, and coloring-book style.  This book is a fantastic tool to teach compassion to the young generation – future conservationists.  I have shared it with my daughter and I hope you’ll share it with your kids. For the protection of elephants, today and every day…Image source: Arno Meintjes/Flickr

It takes almost two years for a baby elephant to be born but less than a second for a poacher’s bullet to end its tiny life.
That’s the tragic reality of the elephant poaching crisis: These animals are slow to reproduce, and their numbers are being decimated by ivory poachers and other threats.
An elephant dies nearly every 15 minutes. At current rates of poaching, elephants will go extinct by the year 2030!
Defenders is working hard to end poaching – won't you help us raise $150,000 by August 31st to sustain our efforts for elephants and other imperiled species?
Did you know that the hunter who slew Cecil the lion was reported to have wanted to kill an elephant next? Did you also know that the gun lobby wants to make it easier to import elephant “trophies” and ivory?
Enough Is Enough – You Can Stop the Countdown to Extinction
To stop the extinction clock, we need to stop demand for ivory. And it starts here at home - the U.S. is the world’s second largest ivory importer.
Your urgent gift will help elephants by supporting Defenders’ work to:
  • Fight to stop the importation of imperiled big game "trophies" such as lions, elephants and rhinos;
  • Mobilize against Congressional efforts to weaken proposed restrictions on the domestic ivory trade;
  • Support legislation to enhance international anti-poaching efforts and impose stricter penalties for wildlife trafficking;
  • At the grassroots level, help enact state-wide ivory bans in key consuming states; and
  • Support protection for imperiled species at international wildlife fora such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Can you imagine the end of elephants on Earth? It doesn’t have to happen, but we’re running out of time.

Nothing touches us more than seeing two of our rescued elephants become best friends.

After suffering years, even decades of abuse and neglect, it must feel like a dream come true to have found a safe place and a kindred spirit.

Recently, we've snapped pictures of several of the elephant BFFs at the rescue centre. We wanted to share these sweet pictures with you to brighten your day and to remind you of the power of friendship.
Mac and Wally sharing secrets
Mac and Wally once spent hours on end chained up in a circus. Now they spend their days sharing secrets and snacks.

Asha's abusive past left her blind, but thanks to her best friend Lakhi
(and Lakhi's bell), she gets around just fine. 
Coco's instinct is to protect her young friend Peanut by standing over her. We hope one day she'll understand that they are both safe now, and that they always will be.

Do you have a BFF in your life? 
Make a donation today in your friend's honor and we'll send them an email -- including a message written by you -- to let them know that you're thinking of them. 
Thank you for being a friend to the animals of Wildlife SOS.

Craigslist: Elephant Haters or Lovers?

(Valid street address is required - P.O. Boxes cannot be used*)
In Defense of Animals
Thought Craigslist was a harmless forum for posting local classifieds? Think again. A report published this spring by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) reported finding that $1.5 million worth of ivory was available for sale on Craigslist at one time, with an estimate of $15 million annually. So, is Craigslist now contributing to the potential extinction of elephants? Sadly, yes.

It is illegal to buy or sell ivory that has recently been imported into the United States. Craigslist can have no doubt that the sale of the vast majority of all ivory being sold on its site is prohibited by this law. It has been estimated that upwards of 90 percent of the ivory sales in Los Angeles and San Francisco are actually illegal.

In a news piece covering the story, has quoted one of the world's largest online petition site Avaaz's senior campaigner Joseph Huff-Hannon as saying: "Craigslist bans ivory on their site, but without enforcement it's an empty gesture—the company can do much more to monitor sales, and report illegal ivory sales to authorities."

Damningly, Craigslist cannot plead that they are unable to enforce their ban. Part of the petition hosted by Avaaz was a campaign asking individuals to post images to Craigslist highlighting the site's role in the illegal trade of ivory. It is disappointing, but should come as no surprise, that Craigslist has been aggressive, and effective, in taking these posts down almost as soon as they go up.

So there it is. Craigslist has the ability to, yet has chosen not to, intervene to help dismantle the illegal sale of ivory tusks. They can knowingly contribute to the killing of more elephants or to help save them.
What you can do:

  • Jim Buckmaster, CEO, Craigslist
  • Craig Newmark, Founder of Craigslist

(Valid street address is required - P.O. Boxes cannot be used*)
* our advocacy software requires actual street addresses in order to determine voting districts. Although we acknowledge that a P.O. Box is a valid mailing address, for advocacy purposes it cannot be used. Thank you for your understanding.

Think Elephant Rides are Cute? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider. Riding an elephant may seem like the epitome of adventure and harmony with nature. Sadly, it couldn’t be more opposite.

While elephants are naturally gentle and docile creatures, they are not naturally conditioned to happily carry people on their backs. Elephants have evolved over millions of years to thrive in their wild habitat amongst other elephants … working to entertain humans wasn’t exactly part of that evolution. Because of this, in order for elephants to submit to the will of humans who use them for tourism, they need to undergo a brutal “breaking process.”

Behind the scenes of popular elephant riding attractions, the animals are chained and robbed of any social contact with other elephants. They are frequently beaten and deprived of food, water or rest until they lose all will to fight back.

Life for an elephant in captivity is far different to one living in the wild, where they will trek up to the thirty miles a day and form strong bonds with other elephants. The good news is you have the power to stop this cruelty. And it all starts with saying no to elephant rides.

Elephant Rides at Southwick’s Zoo
Right now, in Massachusetts’ Southwick’s Zoo, elephants are being forced to give rides for hours on end in the scorching hot heat for the duration of the summer. These elephants are being exhibited through the well-known elephant exploiter, Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT).

But the heat isn’t the only problem  – it gets worse. Trainers working with HTWT have been caught using bullhooks to jab elephants on their worn out feet, legs, and mouths, leaving them screaming in pain. One trainer was even seen stabbing a bullhook into a baby elephant’s mouth.  The fact is, using terror tactics is the only way trainers can control these large animals and force them to let people sit on their backs for hours every day.

These rides don’t just threaten elephants, but people too.

The Dangers of Elephant Rides
There really is no telling if or when elephants will respond aggressively to the hard treatments trainers inflict on them. Like with killer whales in captivity, elephants are so enormous, even a small misstep can be fatal.

Can you imagine how it would feel to be on the back of an elephant when they suddenly decide to bolt? That’s what happened to one woman, in Florida, back in 1992. She and five children were riding an 8,000-pound Asian elephant when the elephant decided to run. Apart from a few injured spectators, nobody got seriously harmed, and the riders managed to get down without being trampled. Police shot the elephant, called both Janet and Kelly, and she survived for the first firing of bullets. To kill her, it took ammunition meant for shooting through armored vehicles. It was a true tragedy that no child should witness.

In 2006, at a traveling zoo in Massachusetts, another incident occurred as a result of elephant rides. An elephant bumped into two men who were placing children on her back, leaving one man with a broken arm.

Three years later, in Indiana, an elephant giving rides at a circus unexpectedly became scared, causing a mobile stairway to collapse, leaving several children with injuries.

Elephants are highly intelligent and emotional beings and when pushed to their limit, they will react just as a person under great stress will. The reality is that these creatures don’t belong as tourism props and no matter how hard we may try to make them conform, we can never truly stifle their wild spirit.

Speak Up to End this Cruel Treatment and be a Voice for Elephants
Elephants need you to speak up for them. Do you think they want to spend hours every day giving rides with the sun scorching their bodies, day in and day out?  Do you think they enjoy spending the rest of their hours, chained up, lonely and in agony from the endless beatings and concrete floors on which they live in captivity? Of course not!

If you want to help elephants, the first most effective thing you can do is to never ride an elephant. Tell your friends and family members about the cruelty behind these rides and urge them to steer clear of them. If you want to see elephants, visit a professional elephant sanctuary, where elephants live in a natural environment.

You can also sign this letter urging Southwick’s Zoo officials to put a stop to these cruel and dangerous elephant rides ASAP!

Amazing New Program is Helping Return Trekking Elephants in Thailand to the Wild!

Life in an elephant trekking camp can be extremely arduous for the animals involved. In order to be prepared for their job of walking around with tourists on their back for extended periods of time – often in unpredictable weather conditions, with little time for a break – they must go through a breaking-and-training process known as “phajaan.” This entails shackling young elephants in small wooden enclosures, and regularly starving and beating the animals until they have mastered the tricks of their trade.

However, an organization called Mahouts Elephant Foundation (MEF), in Thailand, is seeking to transform the traditional role of mahout into one of respectful guardianship, enabling poor people in rural villages where trekking camps are often the primary source of income for many, “to earn a decent wage whilst nurturing an understanding of the elephants’ needs.”

Their latest initiative, Walking Elephants Home, is helping to return former trekking camp elephants to the wild, while also empowering humans in the surrounding villages to create new ways of generating an income.

During the first phase of the project, the team walked two elephants back to their forest home, from the Chiang Mai trekking camp they had been working in: an eight-day journey of over 80 miles. A recent update from MEF said:

“With the help of other organizations, the village community has successfully set up an elephant conservation project and also a home stay project. We have spent the last year having MANY meetings village elders and committee members. It is VITAL that we work to build up strong bonds and relationships which will last into the future. Through mutual respect, care and understanding, we will reach our common goals of protecting vast areas of forest and returning elephants back to live in their natural habitat.”

“Walking Elephants Home” has involved building up a strong, trustful working relationship with the Karen people of northern Thailand. The local people have been steadfast in their support of the project, telling MEF that they “simply want these elephants to live as freely as possible.” They understand that trekking camps have a detrimental impact not only on the elephants who must work there, but also on their own familial relationships. Mahouts who live and work away from the village for long periods at a time may only get to see their families once or twice a year.

To help support this incredible project, why not donate to their JustGiving page?