You may as I- care and appreciate these wonderful animals we call
elephants. Some times I think God must have had a sense of humor
when he made them - these giant, lumbering, but gentle mammals with
their long swaying proboscises. Yes, many of us have a soft spot
in our hearts for o ur fellow vegetarians. They join the list of
other fellow vegetarian animals that so many of us appreicate
because of their diet: the cows, sheep, horses, hippos, goats,
deer, and rabbits.
For many years now In Defense of Animals has worked hard to get
them released from their often cold, asphalt jungles we call zoos.
In some instances, they have succeeded in retiring some of them or
sending them to more humane zoos which provide them with more
comfortable accommodations. Still- not really like home for them
or being free to roam unihibited in lush green surroundings.
IDA and others are also working to stop their exploitation in
circuses. Many of us don't believe they belong there. Ginny, who
sent this beautiful story of the elephants reminded me on how
futile it can be sometimes to try to educate-in this case, one
Knight of Columbus to stop the circus from coming to her Ohio town.
She and others mentioned how cruelly the elephants were treated. He
asked them if they had proof of this cruelty, and they said they did.
But imagine his response. He just walked away, and told them he didn't
want to hear it. Incredibly sad in our opinion that this Catholic
did not want to hear or know about animal abuse. Making money was
obviously more important to him than compassion for God's creatures.
Some compassionate people are listening though, and in their cities
they have outlawed any circuses that have animal acts. God bless
them and He will. That we make them perform unnatural acts for us
is certainly against any laws of charity I know of. No animal should
suffer to give us pleasure.
I'm sure that most of us have heard about Carol Buckley and her
elephant Tarra. After performing years on the circus circuit, she
came to the realization that it was neither the right life for her
or her elephant. With her partner, she founded an elephant sanctuary
in Tennessee where the lucky ones who make it there can roam freely
and happily on the many acres of wooded and grassy land.
When I think of Tarra, I am always reminded of her great love of the
white dog, Bella who lived on the property. The two of them became
fast friends and were often spotted together- this lumbering giant and
this beautiful white dog. H ow sad the day came when Bella was probably
killed by coyotes. Poor Tarra had found her in the field and had brought
her in. We know that Tarra must have grieved a great deal because all
elephants do when they lose family and obviously friends.
I have condensed the account Ginny sent me today of a beautiful
farewell by the elephants of South Africa to their best human friend-
The beginning of her e-mail read "How Did They Know? Something in
the Universe that is Much Greater and Deeper than Human Intelligence.
The elephants journey to pay respect, but how did they know?"
Anthony had rescued wildlife and rehabilitated elephants all over
the globe from human atrocities. During the 2003 Iraq invasion, he
also rescued the Baghdad Zoo animals.
He was well known in South Africa and he authored 3 books including
the bestseller -The Elephant Whisperer. Only 62, Lawrence Anthony
died on March 7, 2012. He is s orely missed by his human family and
what would soon become abundantly clear- by the elephants he had so
loved and protected during his life.
At this sad time the most beautiful and amazing thing happened at his
"wake." Thirty- one elephants had walked over 12 miles to get to his
South African House. One group was led by two large matriarchs. They
showed up at his home to say goodbye to their beloved man-friend.
They had walked slowly for days in a solemn one-by-one queue from their
habitat to his house. Witnesses who saw this spectacle were obviously
in awe. Clearly, this was a manifestation of their supreme intelligence
and their special sense which allowed them to recognize the time of
their best friend's passing.
The question persists- how did they know that Anthony had died? Rabbi
Leila Gal Berner, Ph.D had some thoughts re this phenomenon: "A good
man died suddently and from miles and miles away, two herds of elephants,
sensing that they had lost a beloved human friend, moved in a solemn,
almost 'funereal' procession to make a call on the bereaved family
and tne deceased man's home."
For too long we have treated animals as "inferior" and lacking in
intelligence." Here is proof that God gave them special gifts and that
they deserve to be treated with compassion and respect. Its about time
we recognized the special gifts that God has given them, and wouldn't
it be great if we would keep them out of zoos and the circuses? Animals
are not "dumb" and they have feelings and basic needs much like our
In this regard, Rabbi Gal Berner leves us with a very beautiful thought:
"If there were a time, when we can truly sense the wondrous 'inter-
connectedness of all beings,' it is when we reflect on the elephants of
Thula Thula. A man's heart stops, and hundreds of elephants' hearts
are grieving. This man's oh-so-abundantly loving heart offered healing
to these elephants, and now, they came to pay loving homage to their
The elephants stayed 2 days and 2 nights without eating anything. Then
one morning they left - making their long journey back. When I think
of elephants now, I will probably recall this amazing account of 31 of
them walking 12 miles to "wake" their best human friend.