Earth Day and Elephant Videos

This is a rather popular commercial at the moment:

This clip showed me just how iconic the elephant is to the average consumer. When we think Africa, we think elephants. When we think adventure, we envision being out in the bush, exploring the unknown. And when we envision ourselves in this clip, we presume this idealistic picture is just waiting for us to arrive.

But what this clip didn’t show is that every 15 minutes, an elephant is killed brutally for it’s ivory tusks. That every 15 minutes, ivory is funneled into the illegal wildlife trade funding terrorist organizations across Africa and threatening the stability of local governmental agencies. That every 15 minutes a keystone species, which many other forms of life depend on for their very survival, is one step closer to extinction.

And for what, greed? As Seneca, a Roman philosopher, once said,

For greed, all nature is too little.

Indeed, greed will not stop until every elephant on the African continent is killed, which at the current rate will be by 2025. Are we content to sit idly by and allow this to happen? To look at the above commercial in ten years as something of dreams past when elephants used to roam the African continent?

I, for one, am not. This earth day, please share this with a friend - in a conversation, on a facebook page, in a tweet, whatever the form. Most people do not know the dire situation of the elephant at the hands of the ivory trade at hand…nor do most people realize they have a real chance to change the fate of the African elephant at their fingertips. The elephants do not need to disappear. Be their voice.

shared from Elefant Tours

shared from Elefant Tours

1) If you haven’t already, JOIN THE HERD with Elephantopia. We are raising funds for Kavala, an elephant orphaned because of the ivory trade. Every dollar raised is being donated directly to GRI Elephant Orphanage Project in Zambia to care for Kavala and to support the keepers who dedicate their lives 24/7 to protecting her. Please note – this campaign is open to anyone from around the world. The need? A global herd of elephant ambassadors to make a difference in the lives of those left behind from the ivory trade!

2) SIGN FOR ELEPHANTS – if you are an American citizen, starting May 1-May 30, there will be a campaign to end the ivory trade in the United States. A petition has been created and needs to receive 100,000 signatures within the month. The petition urges the United States president to enact a new executive order to TOTALLY BAN the ivory trade, with only very narrow noncommercial carve-outs for museums and other cultural institutions. This immediate and historic measure for another species is required to save the elephants from extinction. Learn more about this by visiting this Facebook page

Elephantopia is an organization supporting the Sign for Elephants campaign

Elephantopia is an organization supporting the Sign for Elephants campaign

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Happy Weekend: Elephant Play Time

Hope you’re having a fun and family-filled weekend! These happy elephants at the Elephant Nature Park sure are:

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Join the Herd : Meet Kavala

WE ARE OVER HALFWAY to our STRETCH GOAL of $4500! Thank you for joining the herd and supporting Elephantopia as we create a community of people committed to saving elephants!

If you haven’t already, please invite 3 friends or family members to donate todayAll the funds currently raised will go directly to the care and management of Kavala.



Kavala playing in the mud!

Kavala’s mother was shot by poachers in 2011. Her body was found by the Zambian Wildlife Authority with tiny baby droppings surrounding her, but no calf. Three weeks later a weak an emaciated elephant orphan was spotted in the area on the banks of the Zambezi River in Rufunsa GMA. At approximately 10 months old, Kavala was in desperate need of milk formula but had managed to survive on vegetation throughout that time. She had an abscess on her knee and many infected sores all over her body due to her malnourished and immune suppressed condition. With the right diet and combination of treatments and care Kavala healed rapidly and is now a confident and boisterous youngster.


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Nearly 2K in 2Days

WE MET OUR INITIAL GOAL! The $1400 will cover all the basic start-up costs needed for Elephantopia to be an official nonprofit. Thank you for your important support, we couldn’t do this without YOU.

NOW we need to raise $4500 to begin corporate care for Kavala, an orphaned elephant in the care of GRI Elephant Orphanage in Zambia. Our friends at GRI need other organizations (like Elephantopia) to help cover the costs for the care and management of the orphaned elephants (and that includes the people who take care of the precious babies). Elephantopia is looking for a herd of elephant advocates to join us in corporately sponsoring Kavala. Again, we can’t do this without YOU. 

So THANK YOU for your help. Please share this cause with your family & friends – let’s reach our (or even exceed!) stretch goal in the next 44 days!

~Elizabeth Chitwood


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Today, April 15, we are launching our campaign to SAVE ELEPHANTS and BUILD COMMUNITY! We hope you will join us – take a moment to learn more by checking out our Indiegogo site. You have the opportunity to be a founding member of establishing Elephantopia as a nonprofit while helping to sponsor Kavala, an elephant orphan in Zambia whose mother was killed by poachers. Thank you in advance for partnering with us to help us reach our stretch goal of $4500 in 45 days! 

Elephantopia_catchphrase_v2 CLICK HERE to JOIN THE HERD:


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Happy Weekend: Everyone Loves a Baby…Elephant!

There’s nothing cuter than a baby…and this baby elephant will bring a huge smile to your weekend!

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Give It A Rest: A Musician’s Opinion on the Ivory Ban

I’m a musician by trade. I began taking piano lessons at the age of 3, obtained a BA piano, and for the last 7 years I have been teaching, writing, directing and performing music of all sorts. With all it’s tones & dynamics, notes & rests, (all of which undeniably parallels the roller coaster of the human life) it could be said that “music is the shorthand of emotion.”

Currently the emotions of musicians with the American Federation of Musicians are worked up, fearful of the current Obama Administration’s ivory ban. Violinists believe their antique bows that contain ivory will be confiscated as contraband when touring and returning back to the United States. Pianists with antique pianos in-lain with ivory are frustrated that the value of their instrument will now significantly plummet. If this were a musical piece, the strings would begin picking up speed and intensity, the keyboardist would be running through minor arpeggios and the conductor would be flailing his arms about with ferocity as the vocalists begins:

“When the term ‘import’ is used on this ban, it doesn’t just mean commercial activity,” says Heather Noonan, vice president of advocacy for the League of American Orchestras. “It means bringing instruments into the country, even just for personal use, and even if you’re simply returning from work internationally with that instrument.”

“Everyone knows about Stradivari violins,” Moretti says, “and a bow, to a player, is almost equally as important as the violin.” (Violinist Amy Schwartz Moretti directs the McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University. She’s also a touring chamber musician who regularly jets through customs with her century-old bow. On her bow, and many like it, there’s just a tiny sliver of ivory clamping the bow hairs onto the wood.)


And then the rest.

In music, the rest is a time of silence. It allows for a moment where the nothing of life take center stage. It can be comforting. Or it can be uncomfortable. It can be climactic. Or elusive. Regardless, it makes you stop whatever you were doing and allows space to listen & learn.

So in this moment of rest, what could we learn?

The proposed regulations would place a near-total ban on anything made with ivory moving in and out of the U.S.

Craig Hoover, who heads up the Wildlife Trade and Conservation Branch of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says: “The reason for that is … we have seen, over the past five to 10 years, a dramatic, alarming and unprecedented increase in the slaughter of African elephants to supply the global ivory trade, and populations of both savannah elephants and forest elephants have dropped precipitously.”

The new federal rules do offer an exemption for old instruments, and to get the necessary paperwork, you have to prove you purchased the instrument before 1976. However, the Fish & Wildlife Service’s Hoover says that it’s often not easy to differentiate between old and new. “We had a long-term investigation in Philadelphia where we ended up seizing more than 1 ton of African elephant ivory that had been smuggled into the country, and that ivory was pretty much all disguised to look like antique ivory.”

Musicians are hoping for the administration to grant them a sort of “musical passport” for those already in possession of ivory-laid instruments. The Administration is looking to work something out before June when the ban goes into full effect. But the real question is, do future musicians need the ivory?

On her bow, and many like it, there’s just a tiny sliver of ivory clamping the bow hairs onto the wood. These days, it’s made with plastic, but Moretti says all of the great bows were manufactured in an age when ivory came standard.

Ivory is no longer standard. It’s time for the United States, the world’s second highest consumer of ivory, to devalue the use of any ivory. Because ultimately, ivory is not a needed commodity for any musical instrument (or anything for that matter!)


In 2011, the CEO of an Atlanta piano company has been fined $35,000 after pleading guilty to importing piano keys made from real ivory. Photo shared from FWS

This isn’t the first time musicians have been found guilty of not complying to governmental laws, as shown in the following story shared from  Forbes and the  NYTimes:

The Madagascar Ebony is a slow-growing tree species threatened by over-exploitation. Since 2006, harvesting ebony and exporting it in unfinished form from Madagascar has been banned.  In May 2008, the Lacey Act made it illegal to import into the United States plants and plant products (including wood) that have been harvested and exported in violation of the laws of another country. When manufacturing its guitars, the Gibson Guitar Corp. used sawn boards of Madagascar ebony in the form of “fingerboard blanks.” Notwithstanding the 2006 ban, Gibson’s Madagascar supplier continued to obtain the ebony fingerboard blanks from an exporter in Madagascar. Gibson Guitar Corporation then agreed to pay $350,000 in penalties to settle federal charges that it illegally imported ebony Madagascar to use for fret boards, ending a criminal investigation. The guitar maker agreed to pay a $300,000 fine and to donate $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to promote the protection of endangered hardwood trees, like ebony and rosewood. In return, the government deferred prosecution of the company for criminal violations of the Lacey Act.

So what will it be, musicians? I hope we can just give it a rest already and learn to create music using only the finest and most sustainable methods possible. Because our music isn’t supposed to destroy this world. No, as Plato so eloquently said,

“music gives a soul to the universe…life to everything”


shared from

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Happy Weekend: Elephant Crashes the Pool Party

Elephants are known to seek out clean, fresh water on a hot day…

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Calling All Elephant Advocates!

We are excited to announce that this week we received a notice from the Texas State Department that Elephantopia is officially recognized as a nonprofit in the state of Texas. As we celebrate this recognition, we realize this is just the beginning. Later this month we are launching our first campaign.


Our letter from the State!

We’d like to share a sneak peak with you and look forward to partnering together with you to save elephants and build community! This past weekend, our founder and director Elizabeth Chitwood began filming for a video that will be shared with the launch of our campaign.


Elizabeth filming our campaign video

The goal of campaign is to raise $1400 in 45 days to cover the initial costs of starting up Elephantopia as a nonprofit (this will cover state and federal fees, an official website and logo, PO Box, and more). Our stretch goal is to raise $4500 in 45 days. All profits raised above our $1400 goal will go directly to GRI’s elephant orphanage project to support Kavala.

Our friends in Zambia at GRI (Game Rangers International) are working with local communities, raising awareness about the poaching crisis and raising up leaders in elephant care as park rangers. GRI also runs an elephant orphanage. Elephantopia will sponsor Kavala, an innocent victim of the ivory trade. In 2011, her mother was killed by poachers. At 10 days old, GRI rescued her. Today, she is healthy and growing stronger, but is in need of sponsorship from a community of elephant advocates like yourself.

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We plan to launch our campaign on April 15, just in time for Earth Day 2014 and for folks in the US, this is a great way to use your tax refunds! Please consider being a part of the Elephantopia community as we launch a formal website & begin caring for Kavala.

With your help, we can save elephants and build community together. 

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HAPPY WEEKEND: Animal Mums Ranks Elephants at no.7

Check out this awesome video from Earth Unplugged sharing the top 10 animal mothers of the world – and elephants made the list at no.7!

They may not have to pay tuition or buy houses, but when was the last time you went through a 22-month pregnancy? What about eating your own arm to avoid leaving your soon-to-be children on a quest for food? From elephants to octopuses, Earth Unplugged show us the animals that set the standard for how to be good moms. (shared from HuffPost)

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