Monthly Archives: October 2013

Pumpkins & Pachyderms

Happy Halloween! Take a break today to see some very happy pachyderms enjoying their pumpkins!

Watch the elephants at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee enjoy scrumptious treats:

And CLICK HERE to see a baby elephant experience the yummy taste of pumpkins for the first time in a “squishing of the squash”!

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HAPPY WEEKEND: Elephant Family Reunion

This beautiful elephant family reunion is sure to bring a smile to your weekend!

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Every Tweet Counts…Tweet!

Adobe is teaming up with National Geographic and for every tweet with #ProtectTheElephants, they will donate $1 towards National Geographic’s elephant conservation fund! So what are you waiting for! Tweet tweet!1377534_341592699311689_552374437_n

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Tell Others Tuesday

Every Tuesday on our Facebook Page, we ask you to share our page with your friends and family to spread awareness about elephants. Personal stories or testimonies about elephants help people who may otherwise never think about elephants learn something new, which often engenders care for the world’s largest mammal. Today we specifically asked you to tell a friend why you love elephants. Here are just a few reasons we do!

Psychologist Graeme Shannon of Sussex University found elephants in Kenya able to distinguish between different languages – English/the language of tourists clicking cameras - safe; Maa/the language of the Maasai warriors who occasionally kill elephants – potentially dangerous, ; and Swahili, generally safe. The elephants seemed anxious when someone spoke Maa; the moment she switched to Swahili, they became calm.

Animal psychologist Karen McComb, also at Sussex, played back elephant sounds – the deep, gargling rumble they make – to discover how many individual voices one animal could recognise. The answer?More than 100. 

Research in Japan suggests they can count, too.

But it is the empathy of elephants that stands out, that makes them seem so alike to humans. Prof Byrne wrote: “What elephants share with humans is that they live in an elaborate and complex network in which support, empathy, and help for others are critical for survival.”

(stories shared from John Sweeney’s article)



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Happy Weekend: Unlikely Friends

This video clip from the Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is too cute as this sheep and orphaned ellie become friends!

March for Elephants Houston Day

October 4 was World Animal Day. It was also the inaugural International March for Elephants. Thousands of people around the world in over 40 cities marched, raising awareness about the plight of the elephant. As stated by Elizabeth Chitwood, leader of the Houston March:

Unless we STOP THE TRADE, an elephant is killed every 15 minutes.

Unless we STOP THE TRADE, a ranger looses his or her life - already 5,000 in the last ten years

Unless we STOP THE TRADE, terrorists like Al Shabaab will continue funding their extremist agendas.

Today we say loud and proud - STOP THE TRADE, SAVE THE ELEPHANTS!

The day continued with a testimony from Andrea Drager, PhD student at Rice University who formerly worked with the Peace Corps in Central Africa studying the Forest Elephants. She shared the importance ecologically these elephants have to the forests, as “the gardeners” and the devastating effects poaching has on both the forest & the people living there. Peter Riger, Vice President of the Houston Zoo Wildlife Conservation Society, followed her, calling for world leaders to create an international ban on ivory noting that much “legal ivory” entering the US feeds the illegal ivory trade. To save the elephants, we must ban the trade. He applauded the people of Houston for taking a stand today for elephants. Both speakers were awarded a gift from co-leader of the event, Ana Shah. Peter was gifted one year fostering an elephant through David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Andrea, one year of a rhino from DSWT.

Then the fun part began - we marched! A few of our chants:

Elephants! Too big to hide - stop the elephanticide!

Elephants! Are large and gray - let them live another day!

Ivory - is blood red stained (repeat) - Burn it all and stop the trade (repeat)!

Say NO to ivory! Extinction is forever!

Elephant poaching is a crime extinction - is for all time!

The event closed with a proclamation from the Mayor of Houston, announcing that Annise D Parker proclaims October 4, 2013, as March For Elephants Houston Day! As people left, each was given a goody-bag generously donated by Whole Foods Kirby in Houston. We were thankful for both the support of Whole Foods & the Houston Zoo.

Elephantopia was thrilled with the turnout, the event itself and the positive momentum from Houston, being loud for the elephants! We are proud of Houston for raising over $1200 for the event & David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Many elephants will be helped from the generosity of H-Town.

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This weekend, we will be busy creating a photo album of the event & sharing some videos, but for now, here are a few pictures capturing the essence of this monumental day!

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Happy Weekend: Playful Baby Elephants

Baby bulls play-fighting, testing their strength…and it just continues as they grow. Watch as these baby bulls turn into full adult bulls. The strength and power of these creatures is amazing! 

Vegan World Radio

We had the pleasure of being on Vegan World Radio KPFT 90.1FM Houston Tuesday evening, October 1st to share about the ivory trade and the upcoming march for elephants! Below is a transcript of most of what we covered (although time did not permit us to speak to everything!) Elizabeth Chitwood’s interview begins around the 15 minute mark:

Notes for Radio Interview: October 1, 2013

Hello and thank you for having me on Vegan World Radio this evening! I am excited to be spreading awareness about this important issue - ivory poaching.Currently, every 15 minutes one elephant is killed for his or her ivory. That’s roughly 96 elephants a day. And just last year alone, it is estimated that 30,000 of Africa’s elephants were killed by poachers. With approximately 400,000 elephants left in the wild, if nothing is done to stop this demand for ivory, elephants will be extinct in Africa by 2025. The rampant killing of elephants has been deemed an “elephant genocide” by many conservationists

Ivory is in high demand in countries like China as the middle class grows, but most people don’t realize that the US is the second highest importer for ivory. So this issue is something we here in the US are deeply involved with and should care about. Although ivory was banned in 1986 by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) the ban was temporarily lifted in 2008 for a sale of existing stockpiles of ivory which has led to the problems we face today.

Let me tell you a little bit about the poachers - many of these poachers are linked with terrorist groups. Most notably, Al Shabaab who recently killed at least 67 people in the attack at Westgate Mall in Kenya - reportedly they obtain 40% of their funding through ivory poaching. 1 lb of ivory fetches over $1000 USD on the black market. These poachers come heavily armed with machine guns & night vision goggles - the rangers who are working in the parks to protect the elephants, are often ill-equipped or prepared to fight these terrorists. In the last 10 years over 5,000 rangers have lost their lives at the hands of poachers.

Many people ask why the tusks don’t just grow back. In China, most people believe tusks are like any other teeth, if removed, they will grow back. However, this is simply not true. A tusk is a living tissue, with one third of the tusk embedded in the elephant’s skull. It is full of nerves and some of those nerves stretch to the tip of the tusk. Thus removing a tusk is very painful. And poachers often remove the tusks using hacksaws or machetes while the elephant is still alive, cutting off the elephant’s face to get to the whole tusk. It is a gruesome, inhumane, evil practice that kills elephants AND as I explained earlier, kills humans.

So what can be done about it? Right? I hope that when you hear these facts, you are moved to care about this issue and to take a stand against it. To save the elephants. In Kenya, 300,000 people rely on wildlife-tourism for their jobs. Their livelihoods are being directly affected by this elephant massacre. However, there is an amazing organization taking large strides to protect elephants and equip rangers - The David Sheldrick Wildlife Foundation. Recently they have gained a lot of media attention as Kenya’s First Lady has joined them in her new campaign “Hands Off Our Elephants”, Yao Ming & numerous actors and actresses from the states have also vowed to end the poaching crisis working with DSWF. And on October 4, DSWF has organized an international march for the elephants to bring more awareness about this issue to major cities worldwide. Houston is proud to be coordinating a support march at City Hall Friday from

11am-12pm with speakers from the Houston Zoo Wildlife Conservation Department, field scientist & PhD student from Rice University and local awareness group Elephantopia. We plan to be loud, so the whole world hears on Oct 4 (World Animal Day) that we are committed to saving the elephants!

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