Saturday, September 23, 2006

Elephant Appreciation

Yesterday was Elephant Appreciation Day*. I thought it was September 23rd, but I was wrong, and thus, I missed it. But really, is it ever too late to appreciate elephants? And, since elephants in the wild are pretty much in Africa and India and Southeastern Asian countries, shouldn't I have celebrated on Thursday night? Do elephants care about such things?

I'll admit that I never had much of an opinion about elephants growing up. I mean, they're big, and they're kind of prehistoric looking, but what else? Dumbo? Dumbo's cute. That's about as far as I went. Then, when I was an International Relations major in college, we watched a film about I-Don't-Know-What, except at least part of it was talking about the illegal poaching of elephants. The filmmakers captured an elephant being poached on film. (I tried that sentence with 'being shot on film', but since you shoot film, it seemed awkward. I hope none of you think the poor thing was being boiled.) I was struck, to tears actually, by the compassion of the other members of the elephant herd. Any other herd animal, most animals, I would think, if one of their members goes down like that, it means DANGER, and the rest would scatter. Imagine a sniper in a major city. Think people would get the hell out of there asap? You bet. Not the elephants. They all rushed to the aid of the poor elephant who had been shot. They tried to help it up. They didn't want to leave it behind. I don't know if this behavior is because elephants don't have many predators, so they don't have that instinct, or if it is because they are more compassionate than other herd animals. But it went straight to my heart, and elephants went to the top of list of "J's favorite wild animals". (Right up there with those eyelashes...and wolves, just because, well, they're so wolf-y.)

Here's Maya, appreciating an elephant at the SF Zoo, when she was 2. :)

So, in honor of all of the elephants, both in captivity and in the wild, my hat is off to you, and I salute you. Happy Elephant Appreciation Day, everyone!

*Thanks to Mom-101 for the alert.

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