Monday, November 30, 2015

Thank You For Checking Out Today's 'Elephant In The Room'!

This week's episode features Arnold Schwarzenegger, One Green Planet, National Geographic, Mia & Sita, the Wildlife S.O.S., Nosey, Congressman Raul Grijalva,Pope Francis, Mohan, RajuBarnum and Bailey CircusKaavan and all of Thailand’s Working Elephants!
Arnold Schwarzenegger Takes A Stand. We agree with Arnold Schwarzenegger! Some members of Congress want to attach a dangerous new rider to the Federal Ivory Ban that would drastically weaken efforts to crack down on illegal ivory. Tell your lawmakers to stand up for elephants. Terminate the ivory trade.

Sign the Petition to U.S. Senate and Congress. This summer, millions of Americans spoke out in favor of new rules to strengthen regulation of the ivory trade. But some members of Congress aren't listening. They've attached a dangerous rider to the annual funding bill that would drastically weaken efforts to crack down on illegal ivory. And on top of that, they're threatening huge funding cuts to anti-poaching programs and wildlife conservation work worldwide.

Let Congress know that you're watching – and you won't accept laws that kill elephants and put vulnerable wildlife at risk.

Forget the Zoo and Circus, Heartwarming Photo Shows Us Exactly Where Baby Elephants Belong. Elephants are renowned for their intelligence, sensitivity, and rich emotional lives. They have been recorded mourning for dead relatives on numerous occasions, just like humans. In the wild, these animals live in close-knit matrilineal herds, forming loving bonds with friends and family members that can last a lifetime. When these bonds are torn apart by the animal captivity industry, the psychological effects this has on the animals can be devastating.

Popular tourist attractions involving these animals, such as trekking and elephant painting, are often marketed as “cute,” but are, in fact, anything but. The training process involves breaking an elephant’s spirit by locking them in chains for days to endure beatings, causing them to fear their human handlers. The idea is that this fear will get them to perform whatever trick is required without complaint. Painful bullhooks, whips, and chains are used to keep the animal in their place.

These types of forceful training methods are also commonplace in circuses that use elephants. A growing number of countries around the world have banned the use of wild animals in circuses, but in places where the cruel practice continues, the affected elephants experience injuries, illnesses, and a much higher mortality rate than their wild counterparts.

This trend can be readily observed in zoos as well: a recent study on zoo elephants by the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) found that approximately two-thirds of the elephants surveyed displayed stereotypic behaviors like head bobbing, weaving and swaying. This type of behavior – which indicates severe psychological distress – is virtually unheard of amongst wild populations.

As if all this weren’t proof enough of the savagery that we humans inflict on these beautiful beings, the illegal ivory trade is driving the African elephant toward extinction. One African elephant is killed by poachers every fifteen minutes, adding up to a total of around 100 victims every day, or 35,000 to 50,000 every year. An amazing artists’ collective, Artists Against Ivory, is on a mission to combat the problem by changing people’s perceptions of elephants and raising awareness of the urgent need to protect them.

This beautiful photograph shows us exactly where a baby elephant belongs: not in a zoo, not in a circus, not in any place where they will be put on display as an object of human amusement … but by their mother’s side.
Heartwarming New Photo Shows Where Baby Elephants Truly Belong
The sweet image perfectly captures the beauty of these animals and reminds us why it would be an incalculable tragedy if we were to lose them forever. If you want to learn about how you can help save this majestic species.

To find out more about Artists Against Ivory, and to view samples of their incredible work, visit their Facebook page. Image source: Artists Against Ivory/Facebook.

Many of you have been asking when Mia and Sita will meet the new elephants.

Here is an update from the field: 
Raju was very curious and gave the girls a warm welcome as they walked past him to their welcoming and orientation area.
Mac also gave the girls a very loving welcome. He almost climbed out of his enclosure in his excitement of seeing Mia and Sita come in.

Wally, on the other hand, gave a series of friendly squeaks and started a long conversation with the girls, who walked over to him like long lost friends and entwined trunks with him lovingly.

Below are two photos of Sita and Wally meeting for the first time. Your show of concern and support for Mia and Sita has been incredibly touching! We wish they knew the incredible kindness that is being directed their way. We still need 75 people who can pledge $20 a month to sustain their care. Can you help?

Mia and Sita had just been loaded onto rescue vehicles, and were hitting the road for their new home. They had spent 50+ years in a circus (can you imagine!?), but now thanks to you, they have joined Raju and the other rescued elephants in the Herd of Hope. We wanted to share with you some highlights of their journey and their arrival at our rescue center. We still need to raise funds for their ongoing care, so please consider making a donation today.  

Top 10 Moments of Mia and Sita's Rescue 

#1 - Mia discovers that boarding a rescue truck is less scary when you've already made a new friend.

#2 - Sita dangles her trunk over the side both to get snacks and to wave at people she passes.

#3 - During a pit stop, both girls find out that mud baths are everything they hoped they'd be and more.

#4 - Mia gets some TLC for her feet, even before she arrives at the rescue center.

#5 - Our team stops at a sugarcane factory to pick up snacks for the VIPs (very important passengers).

But, before you go, can you donate today to give Mia and Sita the veterinary care and the peaceful retirement they deserve? Make a one-time gift, or become a monthly donor by clicking the button below.

To donate in India Rupees, click here

To donate in British Pounds, click here.
Thank you for making these 10 moments, and all the future happy moments, possible for Mia and Sita. We are truly grateful for your support. 


Nosey and her owner, Hugo Liebel
Nosey and her owner, Hugo Liebel
Arizona Congressman Raúl Grijalva is determined not to let the U.S. Department of Agriculture forget about Nosey, the 32-year-old African circus elephant he and other animal welfare advocates say has “reportedly undergone long-term abuse and has suffered serious, willful, and chronic violations of the Animal Welfare Act."

For months, Grijalva has been the loudest congressional voice demanding that the U.S. Department of Agriculture take greater action and revoke her owner’s license, and this week, he’s at it again, sending U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack a strongly worded letter about Nosey.

Nosey belongs to Hugo Liebel of the Florida-based Liebling Brothers Family Circus, performing and giving rides to the public around the country.

Animal welfare advocates says her allegedly abusive situation was brought to their attention a little over a year ago, and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals group hired an independent veterinarian with more than 30 years of experience with large animals to assess Nosey.

On October 13, 2014, Dr. Philip K. Ensely, wrote a letter to Vilsack. 

“I found this to be the worst, most prolonged, documented example of an uncorrected case of suffering and abuse in an elephant I have ever reviewed . . . These are serious conditions causing suffering and chronic pain that did not just appear overnight. These are progressive conditions acquired cumulatively caused by an improper standard of care and living conditions and inadequate veterinary care.”

Grijalva learned about her situation, and in July, got 31 of his congressional colleagues to co-sign another letter to Vilsack expressing their concern about shortcomings in the federal oversight of her situation.

“We understand that USDA officials evaluated Nosey on November 7, 2014 and January 17, 2015 and reported no findings of lameness or abnormalities that would interfere with normal function. However, we believe there is evidence to demonstrate the USDA’s interpretation of both examinations to have been insufficient to fully evaluate Nosey’s health and that further in-depth and ongoing comprehensive examinations are necessary,” Grijalva’s letter states.

Today I wrote USDA with concerns over their "hands off" vet policy. Animal welfare needs more priority!
Embedded image permalink
Vilsack promised that USDA inspectors would re-examine the situation, but according to the letter Grijalva sent this week, the department “[relied] on an evaluation arranged for by Mr. Liebel’s attending veterinarian."

Grijalva says he’s “deeply concerned” about the evaluation: “Without independently assessing the adequacy of the methods and determinations used, the suitability of the examinations remains in question,” he writes. “Please explain why Mr. Liebel’s veterinarian was permitted to identify an individual for this evaluation.”

Grijalva’s letter goes on to detail his other concerns about the “persistent weaknesses” in how the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service enforces the Animal Welfare Act.

A 2014 report by the Inspector General “found that, since 1992, APHIS has chronically failed to enforce the Animal Welfare Act effectively, in part because of a broken penalty scheme that rewards settlement and fails to deter future violations,” Grijalva writes.

Court documents show that the agency has documented multiple issues about Nosey’s condition dating back to April 2007 and has suggested her owner’s license be revoked. Why she is still with him remains unclear — the USDA did not immediately respond to New Times request for comment.

But as far as Grijalva’s concerned, Nosey is a prime example of why “Animal welfare needs more priority.”

Read Grijalva's Letter to Tom Vilsack:
Retire Nosey the Elephant from the Circus Industry.
Retire Nosey the Elephant from the Circus Industry
TARGET: Deputy Administrator, Animal Care U.S. Department of Agriculture, APHIS

PETITION: Click Here To Sign!

We've got 147,325 supporters, help us get to 150,000

Nosey is a 30-year-old elephant born in Zimbabwe who has endured a life of hardship and abuse. She has been forced to travel and perform with Hugo Liebel and the Florida State Family Circus since 1988. This summer, she was dragged around from festival to festival, from state to state, and forced to give rides.

Despite the fact that elephants are highly social and require the company of other elephants, Nosey has been held alone for 24 years. 

The US Department of Agriculture has documented nearly two decades worth of Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations concerning this elephant, yet no action has been taken to remove Nosey from an abusive and utterly unacceptable situation. This includes repeated failures to provide veterinary care, and safe handling violations.

Confiscate Nosey now and send her to a sanctuary where, after a life of solitude and torment in the circus industry, she can get the specialized care she needs.

Chester Gipson
Deputy Administrator, Animal Care
U.S. Department of Agriculture, APHIS

Click Here To Sign!

Mayor Mitchell and the New Bedford (MA) City Council: Retire Asian elephant Ruth from Buttonwood Park Zoo NOW!
Mayor Mitchell and the New Bedford (MA) City Council: Retire Asian elephant Ruth from Buttonwood Park Zoo NOW!
Why this is important
You have the power to give this poor elephant what she deserves: Freedom. Tall grass to forage. Muddy ponds to soak her weary bones. Friends of her own kind. Peace, dignity.

She does not have, nor will she ever have, these basic elephant needs met at your Buttonwood Park Zoo.

Please Retire Ruth now to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, so she can have the things that she has been deprived of her entire life. 

You agreed to close the elephant exhibit when Ruth & Emily die. Why must they die here?

Claims that they would not survive the journey are simply untrue. Many sicker older elephants are transported even greater distances and do well. It can be done.

The children need to see this? Be honest. Children spend barely a minute at the exhibit before running to the next one. And they don't learn a thing about elephants. Instead they learn the wrong thing on purpose. 

The Association of Zoos & Aquariums certification? Why let AZA dictate the life of this poor elephant? They don't pay to run it. We do. And you are supposed to follow the will of the people, not that of an out-of-state and out-of-touch trade organization.

16 hours a day in a concrete barn, even with a dirt floor, means 16 hours a day of Ruth standing, lying, and sleeping in her own urine and feces. You wouldn't make a dog do that--that would be a Class D felony punishable by 5 years in jail. But that is what you are condemning Ruth to til the day she dies.

And in the winter it is worse. That 16 hours climbs to 20 hours, to 24 hours, then days at a time standing in her own waste, with nothing to do. Too cold to go outside, dangerous if she did. You know Ruth was found outside in a blizzard and the damage it did to her--physically and psychologically.

Then, after 10" of Ruth's tail bone was amputated--yes, surgically amputated--Emily attacked her again, pulling out her sutures and re-infecting her tail. 

You know this. We've told this to you before.

Now it's time to do what is right.

If you can't find it in your hearts to retire both Ruth & Emily, at least have the moral decency to retire Ruth NOW.


The Friends of Ruth & Emily

Ruth, a 55-year-old Asian elephant residing at the City of New Bedford, MA-owned Buttonwood Park Zoo, desperately needs to get out of the zoo life and retire to The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN.

No other elephant in North America has been through what Ruth has been through in her 55 years. 
  • Ruth is limping, and has been for a year and a half. It went undiagnosed until May 2015 when an independent veterinarian was being contacted to examine Ruth. She then received sporadic treatment. But there is no veterinarian at the zoo now and hasn't been for four months. The last vet had no experience with elephant management. Nor did the previous vet have experience with elephants, the one who left for Hawai'i one week after Ruth was found outside in a blizzard.
  • On January 3, 2014, Ruth was found outside in a blizzard in subzero weather. The Zoo guesses she was outside for at least 1 1/2 hours during white-out conditions. They had failed to lock the door the day before. They now claim that she "failed to return to the barn" as if it were her fault.
  • Ruth suffered hypothermia and it took five hours to resuscitate her. She suffered frostbite most severely on her tail, vulva, and ears, but also on her trunk, face, mouth and undercarriage. She then got staph and strep infections on the raw tissue where her skin had sloughed off due to frostbite. It took a year for her to heal.
  • On November 5, 2014, Ruth had 10" of her tail removed--5" due to the frostbite, 5" due to a painful bone infection called osteomyelitis.
  • On November 9, 2014, Ruth was attacked by Emily--again. Zoo staff failed to keep her separate from Emily while she was recuperating from surgery. Emily yanked Ruth's tail so hard she trumpeted in pain. Senior Zoo staff present failed to separate them, and Emily went after her again. And again on December 4, and January 26 and April 11, 2015. The zoo now says these wounds left from these attacks are self-inflicted.
  • Emily has taken her frustrations out on Ruth for nearly 30 years, and the zoo has always known this. The people who are charged with protecting Ruth have failed to do so. Instead the Zoo kept her as a "companion" for Emily.
  • In 2006, Emily bit 6 1/2" off Ruth's tail. This was one of many attacks on Ruth by Emily.
  • Since then, Ruth has been bitten, tusked, rammed, shoved, pushed down and otherwise attacked by Emily. She has suffered injuries such as lacerations and cuts on her trunk, her tail, and her haunches, according to zoo records.
  • Ruth can't fight back. Her trunk is paralyzed, likely through a beating. This happened after she arrived at Buttonwood Park Zoo. The newspaper photo taken the day she arrived says it all--in 1986 when Ruth arrived, she could raise the end of her trunk in greeting to Emily. 
She can no longer do that.
  • The Zoo now posts photos of Ruth taken just as she swings her trunk up to make it appear she still can lift her trunk, but anyone who has ever visited the zoo knows that is simply false.
  • In October 1986, Ruth was found abandoned in a trailer full of dead and dying animals. Her owner was on the lam from the USDA, who had confiscated the other animals in his menagerie. On the night before Ruth was to be confiscated, the owner stole back his animals from Southwick Zoo and stufed Ruth in a trailer with them. Two days later, the trailer was found, and many of the animals had already died. Ruth had been without food or water for at least two days. He when she arrived at Buttonwood Park Zoo, she reached out to Emily.
And that's just the past 29 years of her life. Ruth was "trained" to do stupid circus tricks, likely with bullhooks and ropes, when she was little.

In fact, the Zoo continues to use bullhooks, only on Ruth, to make her move faster when she limps along. The zoo plans on continuing to use bullhooks in their elephant management in the future.

Kenya: Pope Francis Speaks Out Against Ivory Poaching in Kenya. Pope Francis has urged global action against the illegal trafficking of blood diamonds, ivory and other natural resources, in the second day of his landmark three-nation Africa trip.

In a speech in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Thursday, the pope said the illegal trade in precious stones and ivory fulled political instability and organised crime.

"We cannot be silent about forms of illegal trafficking which arise in situations of poverty," he said, just two weeks before Nairobi hosts a key ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation.

Figures published earlier this year by Amnesty International showed conflict diamonds, which account for four percent of total global production, have helped finance civil wars and prop up military regimes.

The pontiff's remarks on wildlife trafficking were likely to hit home in Kenya, a country trying to stamp out rampant poaching to protect its remaining elephant population.

Hundreds of elephants are lost to poaching every year, with conservationists warning the African elephant could be extinct in the wild within a generation.

The Argentine pope also warned against "the globalisation of indifference" and the danger of becoming resigned to "new forms of slavery, human trafficking, forced labour, prostitution and trafficking in organs".

Tens of thousands of Kenyans travelled to the centre of Nairobi on Thursday for a chance to attend a Mass with Pope Francis on his first official visit to the continent.

Rain poured down on the crowds, some of whom had spent the night outside the custom-built chapel in central Nairobi.

He next visits Uganda and the Central African Republic to address a number of pressing concerns, including climate change, conflict resolution, corruption and interfaith tolerance. This story from Al Jazeera was supplied to AllAfrica under an agreement with the African Media Agency.

Help Us Save a Tortured Elephant.
Imagine being ripped away from your mother’s side as a baby and spending the next 50 years of your life in chains. That is the story of Mohan, a 56-year-old bull elephant who has spent almost his entire life in captivity. Mohan has been worked, tortured, and abused by his owner. Having lost custody of Mohan in a recent court case, his owner, Mr. Bhupendar Mishra, has now filed an appeal that threatens to delay his release and could even keep him chained up for the rest of his life.

We are asking District Magistrate Amrit Tripathi to throw out Mr. Mishra’s appeal to reclaim his elephant  and release the elephant to our rescue center.

We are Wildlife SOS, an organization dedicated to saving India’s wildlife. We previously started a petition to keep Raju the “crying elephant” from being returned to his cruel owners. And, after nearly half a million signatures, we won that battle! However, the story wasn’t all good news. We couldn’t rescue Mohan, Raju’s companion who also endured the same horrible treatment. Mysteriously, Mohan disappeared during our final rescue attempt and we were unable to locate him till recently.

Now we need your help. The court has already stripped Mr. Mishra’s right to keep him, but he has appealed the judge's ruling and wants to keep Mohan living a life of misery. But there is still hope. The judge can throw out his case and order Mohan into our custody. That’s where all of you come in! We need your support to help ensure Mohan’s release.

As a young elephant Mohan lost the freedom that every wild animal deserves. And for 50 years he has endured injuries, beatings, malnourishment, dehydration and even been forced to eat plastic. This is not how life should be for such a majestic creature. Join Wildlife SOS and ask District Magistrate Amrit Tripathi to throw out Mr. Mishra’s case and allow Mohan to enjoy the rest of his life in peace.

LETTER TO: District Magistrate - Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh Mr. Amrit Tripathi, IAS

Respected Sir, Mohan the elephant has lived more than five decades in chains. He is malnourished, dehydrated, and in dire need of proper care. He has suffered ongoing abuse, and even in his condition is still forced to work carrying heavy loads.

As you are aware, the people who are holding Mohan in chains in Lalganj are doing so in violation of the law. They have no legal ownership rights on the elephant and have abused him for many years. The U.P. Forest Department has initiated action to rescue Mohan elephant with assistance from Wildlife SOS, and shift the elephant to the Elephant Care Center in Mathura where he will be able to live the rest of his life free from pain and with dignity.

Despite having all necessary documentation required to take custody of Mohan, as well as Police Protection, the Forest Department and Wildlife SOS were met by an angry mob in Lalganj who prevented Mohan elephant's rescue.

We humbly appeal to you to help expedite the release of Mohan to the custody of the Forest Department and Wildlife SOS. Please protect Mohan and ensure that he be allowed to live out his life with dignity at the Elephant Conservation and Care Center in Mathura.

Thank you for your kindness and for helping to free Mohan.

Also, we are trying to Expedite the Release of Mohan, Raju the Crying Elephant's Best Friend.

TARGET: District Magistrate -Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh Mr. Amrit Tripathi, IAS.

PETITION: Click Here To Help!

We've got 209,417 supporters, help us get to 210,000

Mohan is Raju the crying elephant's brother in spirit and in suffering. The pair often worked together and were abused together, but they're the closest thing to family that they have. Mohan has spent over 50 years in chains. The only life he's ever known is enslavement. He should've been released when Raju was rescued back in 2014. But Mohan's owner fled with the elephant, and he's illegally keeping him, says Wildlife SOS India.

Fortunately, Mohan's been found. He's still not receiving adequate shelter, he's still forced to work and he appears to be malnourished and dehydrated. Wildlife SOS India reports that a mob of 300 people illegally prevented Mohan's rescue on March 21, 2015, even though a court order put Mohan in the rescue organization's custody.

It's time for Raju and Mohan to get the reunion of a lifetime. It's time for Mohan to be free. Sign and share this petition urging Mr. Amrit Tripathi, IAS to expedite Mohan's release and to put him in the custody of Forest Department and Wildlife SOS India..

Help Reunite Raju the Crying Elephant With His Best Friend, Mohan.
Remember Raju – the elephant who cried tears of joy during his rescue in India? While Raju captured our hearts — and also headlines from major newspapers — there’s one story that most of us don’t know. Rescuers were supposed to help two elephants that night: Raju and his best friend, Mohan, who is three to four years older than Raju at approximately 55 to 56-years-old, had disappeared by the time that rescuers could get to him.

Mohan has since been located. But unfortunately, much like Raju’s owner (who at one point vowed to put Raju back in chains), Mohan’s owner isn’t giving him up without a fight, even though he’s already lost legal custody of Mohan.

Raju and Mohan: Brothers in Spirit and in Suffering Mohan.

According to Wildlife SOS India, the plan to free Raju and Mohan was set in motion long before the July 4, 2014 rescue. While there is no evidence that Raju and Mohan are related by blood, they are brothers in spirit and in suffering. In both of their lives of darkness and enslavement, the pair always had each other. Between the two of them, they shared a century’s worth of suffering. The rescue organization describes their heartbreaking situation: “they languished side by side, only a trunk’s length away from one another."

Their journey began when they were both calves. Raju and Mohan found themselves chained next to each other at the Sonepur Mela (a fair meant for cattle where elephants are also sold illegally). It was there that both of them were bought by two members of the same family.

For many decades, the two bull elephants were forced to work — sometimes together and sometimes apart. Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS says, “each was the other’s only witness to the suffering and brutality they endured.” And in the complex lives of socially and emotionally intelligent animals like elephants, this relationship means a lot.

The Fight to Free Mohan”
Mohan’s current situation is grim: the 54+ year-old elephant is still chained up (except when he’s forced to work), he still doesn’t have appropriate shelter and he appears to be dehydrated and malnourished. Sadly, an estimated 3,500 to 4,000 captive elephants in India find themselves in these abysmal conditions, says Help Animals India.

Unfortunately, Mohan’s owner isn’t cooperating in the rescue. In a Facebook update on March 21, 2015, Wildlife SOS India described how they approached Lalganj with 30 police officers, 15 forest officers and 10 members of their team with the intention of rescuing Mohan. Veterinarians worked to sedate Mohan, but when Mohan was in the process of being moved, rescuers “were quickly surrounded by a mob of over 300 people who refused to let us move Mohan.” After a couple of the rescue team members were “nearly roughed up,” they were advised to return on a later day with reinforcements. The rescue organization is committed in reuniting Raju and Mohan, as they say: “Please know that we will not give up on Mohan. We will go back for him. One way or another we will bring him to safety.”

Watch Raju’s moving rescue here:.
Raju’s gotten a second chance at life. But can you imagine what it would mean for both Raju and Mohan to spend the remainder of their days together and in peace? I can’t think of a more perfect gift. Please sign and share this petition urging the expedited release of Mohan. To learn more about how you can help Raju and Mohan, visit Wildlife SOS India. Photo Credit: Tambako The Jaguar


No more live animal circuses!! Please sign this petition to make circuses featuring live animals against the law in Colorado.
No more live animal circuses!! Please sign this petition to make circuses featuring live animals against the law in Colorado
TARGET: John Hickenlooper

PETITION: Click Here To Help!

We've got 2,997 supporters, help us get to 25,000

Barnum and Bailey Circus is going to stop forcing elephants in their acts in the year 2018, why not right now? And what about the other animals forced to perform? We need laws in place to stop ALL circuses from forcing animals to perform. These poor animals endure much pain while they are being "trained". Let's end this once and for all!

Save the Sick, Confined Elephant, Kaavan & Place in Reputable Sanctuary
Save the Sick, Confined Elephant, Kaavan & Place in Reputable Sanctuary 
Please stand up for Kaavan!

TARGET: President of Pakistan, Mamnoon Hussain

We've got 208,826 supporters, help us get to 210,000

A young elephant by the name of Kaavan was literally taken away from its mother in Sri Lanka back in 1985 and taken to the Pakistan Islamabad Zoo.  Ever since that time this baby lived in a concrete enclosure with all four legs chained, allowing for very little movement.  This has been Kaavan’s entire life. 

Kaavan can do nothing more than bob his head side to side, a behavior typical of despair and depression.  Because of the chains, he also suffers with several deep gashes and signs of gangrene on his lower legs.  If this poor animal is not removed from this atmosphere and helped, he will not have a very long life.  Living at this zoo has robbed Kaavan of the many benefits of an animal living free in the wild, like love, friendship, comfort and freedom.

Join us in our efforts to save Kaavan from this horrific zoo so that we can get him all the medical care and attention he needs and the prospect of a better life possibly in a reputable sanctuary.  This poor animal has spent too many long years in despair and discomfort without ever receiving any medical attention or even be able to walk and roam the way that elephants do. Kaavan has endured much too much abuse and neglect and it is our time to stand up for him and help him in his remaining years.

Our efforts in this petition is to save Kaavan from the Pakistan Islamabad Zoo, provide him love, medical care, exercise and nourishment at which time he can then be placed in a safe, healthy, reputable sanctuary or facility that can give him all the attention and care he deserves.  

You can help us in our efforts by signing and sharing this petition.  

Heartbreaking Photos Illustrate the Brutal Reality of Everyday Life for Thailand’s Working Elephants.

Elephants are, by nature, extremely intelligent and sensitive beings. They form close friendships with one another, mourn when a relative dies, and have even proven that they are able to differentiate between humans who wish to harm them, and those who do not. They typically live in matriarchal herds, headed by an older female elephant. Her daughters and their calves follow her lead, and when she dies, the eldest daughter usually takes her place. Adult males live in separate “bachelor” groups. A study released last year by Think Elephants International found that “Asian elephants console others who are in distress with vocalizations and gentle touches” – proving that they are much more similar to us than we realize.

However, these majestic animals are all too often abused and exploited by humans who wish to put them to work. In the elephant tourism industry of Thailand, for example, elephants are deprived of their natural familial bonds, forced to perform tricks in order to earn money for their handlers, and are often subjected to horrendous cruelty. The Elephants Asia Rescue and Survival (EARS) Foundation recently posted a shocking series of images to their Facebook page, that illustrate just how grim everyday life is for the elephants who are trapped in this industry.

The pictures were taken at this year’s Surin Round Up in north-east Thailand. This annual festival was originally established in 1960 to celebrate the close, centuries-long relationship between the people of Surin and local elephants, but has since degenerated into a sad display of elephant abuse and cruelty. EARS’ previous investigations into the Surin Round Up revealed that “inexperienced teenagers were using young elephants to aggressively beg for money, selling bags of sugarcane at 20 Baht and charging 50 Baht for a photo. We saw elephants as young as 1 year old being stabbed and controlled with sharp nails and hooks.”

Just like the terrified baby in this photo, EARS found that “every baby elephant had a bloodied head and wild frightened eyes.”
Heartbreaking Photos Illustrate the Reality of Everyday Life for Thailand's Working Elephants
“By their demeanor and actions, we believe some of the teenagers were drunk or had taken drugs,” the organization added. “They were seen driving the hook into the elephants’ head, kicking them, pulling their tails, and forcing them to do tricks even when tourists were not present; seemingly for their own amusement. Both local and foreign tourists were handing over money to these teenagers who appeared to be making 1000′s of Baht daily."

The injuries on the elephants’ heads bear witness to the suffering that they have been forced to endure.
Heartbreaking Photos Illustrate the Reality of Everyday Life for Thailand's Working Elephants
The pictures may be distressing to look at, but there is no doubt that they need to be seen.
Heartbreaking Photos Illustrate the Reality of Everyday Life for Thailand's Working Elephants
Even in their pain and sadness, the elephants attempt to comfort each other by standing close together and caressing one another with their trunks.
Heartbreaking Photos Illustrate the Reality of Everyday Life for Thailand's Working Elephants
EARS said, “You can feel their sadness, loneliness, frustration and confusion. You can see the fear in their eyes. There is little access to fresh water so they are dehydrated, thirsty, and hot from the scorching sun.”

Heartbreaking Photos Illustrate the Reality of Everyday Life for Thailand's Working Elephants
They are continuously paraded through large crowds of people, waiting for their handlers to pull them into yet another photo opportunity.

Heartbreaking Photos Illustrate the Reality of Everyday Life for Thailand's Working Elephants
Whenever they try to stop for a break, the handlers force them to get up again.

Heartbreaking Photos Illustrate the Reality of Everyday Life for Thailand's Working Elephants
Sadly, to many elephant keepers at the Surin Round Up, profit vastly outranks the animals’ well-being.

Heartbreaking Photos Illustrate the Reality of Everyday Life for Thailand's Working Elephants
On their Facebook page, EARS asked the unanswerable question: “What possesses man to be so cruel? … (The elephants’) lives are a misery. They are stabbed repeatedly with huge sharp hooks, pulled and squeezed by their ears. Tourists take rides even with the elephants’ foreheads covered in bloodied wounds. The teenage boys with the young begging elephants are not mahouts, they are not worthy of this title and important status."

The Surin Round Up and other kinds of exploitative festivals continue to exist because people have a misguided desire to be close to elephants: to touch them, pose for pictures with them, ride on their backs, and watch them perform tricks. In their rush to claim that they have had an up-close encounter with an elephant, tourists fail to acknowledge or understand the fact that this is not a natural or desirable existence for these animals. EARS have stated that, “Over the next few days we will be posting more footage to share across social media. It is difficult to look at but this is the reality for these elephants every day. Please use the photos to tell their story so we can bring about change.”

To help raise awareness of the plight faced by elephants in Thailand’s tourism industry, and learn about more ethical ways to experience elephants and other wild animals, share this post! To learn more, check out the articles below:
All image source: Elephant Asia Rescue and Survival Foundation/Facebook