Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Love Elephants

I fell in love with elephants when I first watched Jungle Book. They are one of the most gorgeous animals in the world. Came across an article about mortality amongst zoo-born Asian elephants were two to three times higher than for those born in the logging camps. Their chance of survival lessens when they are caught captive at an early age from their herd. Dr Clubb, from Britain's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) says this is probably caused by the stress of being taken away from their herd, mothers or family group.

Diet and lifestyle are also key factors influencing elephants lifespan. The vast majority are overweight in zoos, this could explain the high still-birth rates and why they're dying early. Bigger mothers have bigger calves and more of these are still-born.

Compared to wild elephants used in logging companies, their recorded life expectancy is longer - more than 40 years compared with less than 19 in zoo elephants - this could be put down to their lifestyle; for half the time the Burmese working elephants are allowed to act naturally.

Elephants in the workforce work for no more than six to eight hours a day. For the remaining hours they are set loose in the forest to live like wild elephants, where they can meet and mate with other wild elephants, and have a full elephant life, good exercise and good food.

Zoo elephants have a very monotonous lifestyle, every day is the same for them, living in the same compound, with limited roaming, which makes them more stressed.

Sad. I went to an elephant camp in Chiang Mai once and was a bit upset when I saw elephants in chains. They were trained to do animal tricks and paint pictures with their trunks. Even though I was thrilled to meet them, I was wondering if they were treated well enough by the owners. Really, no one wants to be caged. I had an interesting conversation with a friend on how animals should be treated. He thinks them as just 'animals', I see them as unique 'beings' like us with their own intelligence for survival. Whether or not I am western educated, I still believe in treating all living things with respect.

Think of it this way, all animals feel, whether it's fear or a sense of security to love.

And yes, I admire Steve Irwin for all his work done even though I do think some of it should go amiss.