Our continuing series on Water for Elephants
In the Sara Gruen novel Water for Elephants, we are introduced to the ‘ultimate prize’ for a circus, an elephant and her name is Rosie. So why is it that we are all fascinated by elephants? Is it their grand size, their graceful nature or their intelligence? Whatever the reason there is no doubt that in the upcoming movie, an elephant will make a grand entrance and capture our fascination. For many years elephants have been part of the circuses and zoos, however, their upkeep and maintenance at some facilities has been less than stellar, as we noted in our Part 1 article. Elephant populations around the world are diminishing due to human encroachment drastically reducing their natural habitats and poaching.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has been a working to provide elephant conservation programs around the world. Additionally, accredited zoos provide the majority of the funding for the International Elephant Foundation (IEF), a non-profit organization that supports a wide variety of elephant conservation and related scientific and educational projects worldwide. There are also independent elephant and animal sanctuaries that are dedicated to the proper care and survival of elephants and other endangered animals. In showcasing the elephant in the upcoming movie, we wanted to share with our readers a number of programs and facilities that are helping to protect elephants around the world. All of them are self-funded non-profit organizations and survive on donations.
The actor elephant Tai comes from a conservation program in California, Have trunk will travel. However, there are several U.S. based sanctuaries for elephants to retire. In Tennessee, you will find The Elephant Sanctuary, which has over 2,700 acres for elephants to roam. There is a touching story that made news recently about this sanctuary. Please watch.
The Riddles Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary in Arkansas is a 330-acre retreat. Performing Animal Wildlife Sanctuary (Paws) is based in Gault, California and they have not only elephants, but also tigers and bears that were all rescued from performing and being mistreated. The AZA sponsors a fairly new program in Okeechobee, Florida The National Elephant Center. The center is located on a 300-acre habitat, which will be used in conjunction with the AZA and IEF. The National Zoo with support from the Smithsonian Institution has an elephant research and conservation program underway as well called Elephant Trails. Even Disney with their Animal Kingdom savanna park are encouraging elephant research by working in conjunction with the AZA and IEF and their corporate Disney World Conservation Fund
Kenya’s Tsavo National park is a landmark originally conceived in 1948 and is the world’s largest dedicated preserve covering over 22,000 sq km. For David Sheldrick the park’s first warden, it became his life’s work caring for orphaned elephants and rhinos. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was created in 1977 after the death of Sheldrick and is still instrumental in preservation of abandoned infant elephants in Tsavo. Adjacent to the Tsavo National Park is another sanctuary, Mwaluganje, designed to help local farmers and elephants find peaceful co-existence and to reduce poaching.
Elsewhere in the world, there are other sanctuaries for elephants. In South Africa, there are three habitats at The Elephant Sanctuary that provide education and interaction with African elephants for visitors. In Thailand, Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary has been another bootstrap organization dedicated to rescuing elephants.
It is truly awe-inspiring to realize how many people are trying to save these animals and provide for their care across the globe and how many different ways you can help.
Please join our discussion on this topic Tuesday, 3/29/2011 @7pE/12UTC