From that one time I lived in a village in Thailand for a month…
While there are many animals in the village–the main animal we love to see here are the elephants! These you have to hike into the forest to see though.
After a very long and sweaty hike on our first official day (Monday aka moo duh nee in Pakinyaw), we finally got up close to some elephants. To get to the second elephant, we got to slide down a dirt hill and climb (slightly on all fours because of how slippery the dirt hill was) up the other side of the little valley.
Asian elephants are much smaller than the ones in Africa, but they still are big! Ka Moon looked so happy as she took our bananas up into her trunk and put them hungrily into her pink mouth.
At one point, the dog that had been following us came near and Ka Moon bellowed angrily. I have to say, my heart jumped into my throat and back down into the pit of my stomach!
I hope that this program is successful in allowing elephants to live a more natural life, away from the horrible and abusive conditions of the popular camps that tourists seem to flock to these days.
Elephants’ backs are not structurally made to be able to hold massive weight like horses. And although they are intelligent enough to learn to do many tricks including standing on two feet (ridiculous since they normally put 2/3 of their weight on their front legs-so putting all of their weight on their back legs is awful!) and painting (which is just that-a trick-motivated by the mahouts by crushing their spirits until they learn to obey), our entertainment is not worth their pain.
Seeing these creatures in the “wild” makes it hard to imagine how anyone could watch an elephant in a tourist camp do tricks and not feel disgusted with themselves. Unfortunately, most people do not realize what horrors take place for the elephants who entertain the masses. If people knew-I just know no one would be able to stomach it!
We often see someone or something that appears to be strong and think that they are unbreakable. We may pass by thinking they don’t need our help. But sometimes it is the ones who appear the strongest who need the most help. Although elephants are powerful enough to kill a human in a single sweep, they have been and continue to be controlled by humans. Just because we can hurt and control and dominate doesn’t mean we should. They may not be the first animal to come to mind when you think of what animal needs our help-perhaps because of their size, perhaps because of the misinformation tourist companies send out. But they need help. Elephant abuse has gone on for too long-and they deserve to live a life of respect and kindness.