A decision was made that instead of a march (which has somewhat of a negative association in Brazil) we would do a weekend in the park.
Wonderful volunteers helped organize the day, spread the word, and put together the educational material needed. Parque Ibirapuera is very popular and presented the perfect opportunity to educate people about poaching, the destruction of elephant habitat and also the very foreign concept of sanctuary for elephants.
The city office was gracious enough to give us a permit that allowed us to blow up Teresita the elephant in the park, along with setting up educational placards and banners. Several volunteers and us spent the day answering questions and talking to those who were curious. The same thing was heard over and over by those we spoke to: “I just didn’t know.” Which means there were around a thousand people, mostly from Brazil but as far away as China and Australia, that had their eyes opened today to the harsh reality that faces both wild and captive elephants.
The second day in the park was more of the same. Many people stopping, but not just for a moment to look at the photos, but staying for 20 minutes to read every word of all of the signs. You had people who called friends over and parents who would start to read, then call their children over, so they could read the entire thing aloud to them. The fact that people found it important enough to share with those that they were with speaks volumes. Throughout the two days, thousands of people took time to educate themselves about the plight of wild and captive elephants. That’s utterly amazing.
It was great to see so many individuals taking the time to stop, read, take photos and talk. Having a big blow up elephant attracts a lot of attention oddly enough. One of our favorite moments of the first day was the little boy who absolutely loved Teresita. He was so genuine in his affection for her it was wonderful. If the only thing that had come out of the day was having a little boy fall in love with elephants, while learning that a blow up version is the best way he can respectfully see them up close, it all would have been worth it.
Global Sanctuary for Elephants, ElephantVoices and Santuário de Elefantes Brasil all worked together to make today a success. This is the same team that is working together to create sanctuary for elephants here in Brazil. As the united voice that marched around the world for elephants and rhinos today shows, together we can have a much bigger impact on the world around us.