Today is World Elephant Day, which was created to bring attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants. Millions of participants worldwide have shown their concern about the plight of elephants through acknowledgement of World Elephant Day, proving that people respect elephants and want to support them. We have chosen this day to celebrate how sanctuary can help elephants heal from decades of trauma and abuse, and how it has helped our group of elephants thrive and learn to simply be elephants again.
The caregivers at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil and at other sanctuaries we have worked with have witnessed the power of connection between elephants and how learning the concept of freedom can help them remember how to act like an elephant, trust others, and begin to release some of the pain they’ve held inside for years. We have heard time and again that once elephants have had extended contact with humans, they forget how to socialize, or that years of time spent alone condition them to depend on humans for every need. Some insist that, without human intervention, elephants won’t know how to graze, take care of themselves, or understand how to interact with other elephants.
Time and again, the elephants that arrive at sanctuary have disproved those theories. It is true that elephants need some form of relationship with other elephants, they need to feel secure, and they want to connect with the land again. But they appear to have an innate instinct for how to do those things, in time.
For instance, Maia and Guida got along terribly before they arrived here, but seemed to instantly make peace with one another and became the closest of friends. Rana spent 50 years alone, and one of the first things she did after stepping out of her transport crate was to cry out for her sisters that she knew were there somewhere. Even though Lady does not have a tactile relationship with the others, she still seeks to be around them and finds great joy in the natural world that surrounds her. Each elephant here finds some level of healing. The trauma, health issues, and age of the elephants at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil will never allow for them to be returned into the wild, but their lives at sanctuary provides them the next best thing – an environment that is as close as possible to their natural one, the ability to form meaningful relationships with other elephants, and the freedom to make choices they should have been allowed to make, if not for years in captivity.
We hope that today (and every day) you will find time to advocate for this incredible, intelligent, and loving species in your own way. There are so many that still need help. Please help to shed light on how this important species can impact the lives of others, restore the land, and live the healthiest lives they can.
Photo: Mara, Bambi, and Rana