Empathy For Elephants

I have been brought to streaming tears watching the two videos that American Defenders International (ADI) have released of the company Have Trunks Will Travel allegedly training and handling elephants inhumanely, although the company denies it. Have Trunks Will Travel supplied the elephant, Tai, for the movie Water for Elephants, which was, ironically, about the mistreatment of a circus elephant.

Here I talk to some anonymous Asian elephants that reside in the U.S. about how they are treated.

Elephant #1: “I have learned that people are different than elephants. Elephants care about each other. They care about their feelings and their state of health. People do not care about each other or other species. When they abuse us by poking us and hitting us we have damage to our bodies. We have ringing in our ears from the electricity. We have throbbing in our heads and sides from the deepness and intensity of the bull hooks. We have pain in our chest and genitals from the abuse. People are not kind. We are gentle to them because we know the pain they can inflict on us. Some say they love us but their love comes with pain. Elephants do not love the same.”

Elephant #2: “I have gone almost blind from all the shocking they have done to me. They have stuck electric prods up my ears and pounded me on my head. I cannot see well. They beat me when I miss a step. When visitors are close they stroke my trunk as if they love me. They are cruel. I only know sorrow. When I rest my head in one of the younger trainers’ hands she thinks I love her, but I am really praying she will help me and take the suffering away.”

Elephant #3: “I once knew a human that was filled with love and would never abuse an animal. There is something in a human’s eyes that go angry and cruel when an elephant does not understand. I know there are people speaking out for us. But where are they? Why are they not here?”

Elephant #4: “I have been sick inside for a long time. I have witnessed and endured so much. Just a few people have stroked me gently. I came into this world knowing that people do not understand animals. They abuse us in ways that give me nightmares. We are smart. I understand why elephants go angry and kill their trainers. I understand it because sometimes I have dreams of hurting them. But I am not brave enough to follow through. Where would I go?”

Elephant #5: “It is hard to find joy. They do not even allow us to hang out with each other. The oldest human teaches the other humans to be cruel. The humans may come in with love but the older one destroys it in them as he destroys any sense of comfort we may have.”

Elephant #6: “I hope that everyone who cares takes us away from our abusers and puts us at sanctuaries where we do not need to work or be forced to do tricks that hurt our bodies. I feel a mass amount of people who care. I know there is a better life. I can see it in their thoughts. Please help us. Please take us away. The abuse has not stopped. We are still suffering. It is worse than everyone thinks. Do you see happiness in our eyes? Elephants know how to express joy. We are unable to experience happiness here. Please help us.”

News Cast Of Have Trunks Will Travel Alleged Elephant Abuse:

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5 Responses to Empathy For Elephants

  1. Wanda Blomberg says:

    Thank you Laura for posting the communication with animals. For Have trunks will Travel say the elephants are not being abused is absurd..My eyes know what I see and my ears know the sound of hitting, shocks and pain. It hurts me to my core that this is allowed to continue. I truly hope this company is put out of business and the people involved in the abuse brought to justice! Especially the women that seems to be getting so much pleasure out of their torture and the torture of the young elephant. It is time to stop this now and give all animals that are mistreated a safe sanctuary and the love they deserve.

  2. Meredith says:

    I cried too while watching this video. I cried when reading what the elephants had to say. They are right, people are not kind. I understand and empathize with the elephants pain. I care. The people at Have Trunks Will Travel have not told the truth and should be held accountable for animal cruelty.

  3. Lynn says:

    I could not even stand to watch this video, as I knew what it contained. Elephants are such intelligent creatures with strong family bonds and social structures, and the way humans treat them has always been deplorable. So many people think of animals as “things” or “possessions” and want to control them instead of just letting them be what they are and peacefully living with them, enjoying their essence. To live with an animal and have an understanding between you is one of the most beautiful and satisfying things in life, and I feel sorry for the people who have never experienced it, don’t think it matters, or cannot even imagine it. They are much poorer for what they lack, and to be pitied.

  4. Susan Levin says:

    Laura, I posted a link on Facebook to the KTLA video–thinking that all my animal-loving friends would jump on it. Wrong–only three people commented…two of them did post the video on their page too. But, so you won’t think everyone is ignoring your elephant post, I’m telling you I did not ignore it. I cried over it. I thought about it most of last night. I would give anything to know what can be done–how can this kind of cruelty be made public knowledge? How can it be stopped? I checked YELP to see if they do movie reviews, thinking I would post a link to the video on YELP, but apparently they don’t do movie reviews. Wish I knew how to reach Reese Witherspoon. I’m still thinking about what’s possible.

  5. Joy says:

    Thank you Laura for letting us hear the elephants. They are right — there are too many humans who do not know how to love themselves or other species. Babies and young children naturally love animals, but then are taught the animals are here only to serve humans — as food, fashion and entertainment. Even pets are discarded when no longer convenient. I agree with Lynn — I also feel sorry for those who have never known the wonder of just “being” with animals. I hope that your work will help bring about greater awareness, and will bring some relief for the elephants.

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