Monthly Archives: December 2013

5 Quote Countdown

As we head into this new year, we wanted to share 5 inspirational quotes and photographs shared from The Independent. Here’s to 2014 and a harmonious future for elephants and humans!

5. “If elephants didn’t exist, you couldn’t invent one. They belong to a small group of living things so unlikely they challenge credulity and common sense.” - Lyall Watson

4. “There is no creature among all the Beasts of the world which hath so great and ample demonstration of the power and wisedom of almighty God as the Elephant.” Edward Topsell in The Historie of Foure-Footed Beastes

3. “I meant what I said and I said what I meant - An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent!” - Dr Seuss

2. “We admire elephants in part because they demonstrate what we consider the finest human traits: empathy, self-awareness, and social intelligence. But the way we treat them puts on display the very worst of human behavior.” - Graydon Carter

1. “Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant - the only harmless great thing.” - John Donne


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Tell A Friend!

Tell A Friend!

Picture shared from MIKE POWELL

This page is about spreading educational awareness about elephants! Help make more ele-advocates by sharing us (and our Facebook page) with your friends. Thank you!

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Happy Weekend: Happy Baby Elephant & Her Trunk

Watch this cutie learn how to use her trunk! Thanks to WWF for posting this adorable video. She is nearly 4 months old and is born to a mother who is part of an elite team of critically endangered Sumatran elephants who help protect communities from conflict with wild elephants in Indonesia. Learn more by visiting:

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Merry Christmas from Elephantopia

We hope you have a wonderful holiday with your friends and family! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Elephantopia!

“I may not always be with you
But when we’re far apart
Remember you will be with me
Right inside my heart”
― Marc Wambolt, Poems from the Heart

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Happy Weekend: Grandma Knows Best

Just another example of how important the matriarch is to the survival of the family. Unfortunately, poachers usually target the matriarch for her large tusks. Please say NO to ivory and share.

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Twas the Week before Christmas


Photo Source Unknown

Twas the week before Christmas

And both day and night

Baby ellies were dancing

And jumping in delight!

That people like you

And people like me

Would take the next step

To say NO to ivory!

Maybe it’s a share,

Maybe it’s a like,

Maybe it’s a foster

But whatever it might,

Little ellies in Africa hope that next year

Will be full of safety and love and no more fear.


This Christmas, give a gift of life.

  1. Sponsor an orphaned elephant at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. We love our littlies Naipoki & Rombo.
  2. LIKE us on Facebook and FOLLOW us on Twitter — then invite your friends too so together we can spread awareness about elephants to more people.
  3. BUY a shirt or a bumper sticker to show your support!
  4. Stay tuned for some big announcements coming spring 2014 as we begin the process of applying for 501C3 status and launching new partnerships!

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The Elephants of Christmas Past

December has been particularly busy for me. I’m a full time musician who happens to love elephants and has dedicated all my free time to running this educational awareness blog. With holiday gigs, I haven’t had a lot of time to write posts, but I have been busy sharing ele-news on Elephantopia’s facebook page (if you haven’t LIKED it yet, head over there now!) One of the news items I want to post is about Raja’s birthday coming up next week, December 27 (the same day as my husbands!) But in order to stem any potential misunderstanding, I thought it best to dedicate a blog to the topic.

You see, Raja lives at the St. Louis Zoo. There are a few different groups of ele-advocates, some that are like zoos, and some that detest zoos. This post isn’t about being pro-zoo or anti-zoo. It’s about Raja. And how this Christmas elephant from my past has shaped my love for elephants in the present.

This love affair with elephants began at the young age of six when, living in Memphis, I visited the elephants with a “backstage pass” getting to stand right next to the giants to feed them some carrots! A few years later I moved to St. Louis where Raja was the first elephant to be born at the St. Louis Zoo. My family had a zoo membership, so of course I participated in all the festivities leading up to his birth December 27, 1992. I still have a small figurine of Raja that I purchased!

This month Raja, who holds a dear place in my heart, is turning 21. This video of his life brought tears to my eyes watching it. I thank him for being born in St. Louis when I was there at a formative age in my life. Because of Raja, I was introduced to elephants. Because of Raja, I became connected to these animals in a larger-than-life sort of way. Because of Raja, I learned about conservation efforts for Asian elephants. Because of Raja, I vowed that one day I would help elephants as an ele-activist.

Do I think they are the best place for animals? Of course not. The best place for animals is in the wild. Do I think some zoos mistreat their elephants? You bet - elephants need SPACE and FAMILY and not all zoos provide these two critical elements. But do I think zoos play an important role in educating the public on conservation matters while eliciting deep & lasting connections between humans & animals? Yes, because my experience with Raja did that for me.

Again, I know this post will probably evoke heated responses from people. But I can’t deny how important Raja has been to my life. And so I face Raja, the elephant of my Christmas past, with a thankful heart and with hope for the future as I continue my study of elephants with efforts to help others find a spot in their hearts for these most amazing animals.

P.S.  The issue of elephants in zoos is deserving of an entire blog post, which as I stated is not what this post is about. However, for the sake of clarity, here is a brief outline of some thoughts I have on zoos…Having lived in South Africa, seeing elephants in the wild roaming hundreds of miles & living in large family herds, it’s easy to see how zoos fall critically short in being able to provide the space for these magnificent beings. This lack of space often leads to elephant obesity, arthritis and boredom. In the last few months, zoos around the world have lost elephants which makes many question the safety & care of elephants in zoos (Baby Sanook in Melbourn, Maude in Miami…a full list of elephant-zoo deaths from 2000-2012 can be found here). And of course, then there is the mysterious EEHV virus that is found in most elephants in zoos. There is still research being done to figure out what causes the virus, how it spreads, and a search for a cure (although I am excited that the Houston Zoo received a $500,000 grant earlier this year that will fund three additional full-time research positions over three years, tripling the resources currently at the zoo’s disposal). This past year, I decided I wanted to get a better understanding of zoos and so I volunteered at the Houston Zoo putting in over 100 hours with the goats, sea lions, elephants & public education. I’ve seen firsthand how the keepers care for our animals, the time, energy, and love that goes into a job full of hard labor.  The zoo even supported the Houston March for Elephants Elephantopia organized. I believe that all zoos are NOT equal but that the Houston Zoo is a good place filled with people who really love their animals and are doing the best they can to care for them. They are committed to educating the public about extinction issues while partnering with organizations around the world who are working in the front-lines of conservation (such as Save the Elephants with Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton).
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Happy Weekend: A moment with India’s Elephants

Relax and enjoy watching this herd of elephants wander through the forest!

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Happy Weekend: Baby Chhouk’s New Lease on Life!

Happy Weekend! This video of  baby Chhouk’s new boot will melt your heart!

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Mandela & The Elephant


Photograph published by Zander

Every 15 minutes, an elephant is killed for its ivory. This amounts to 96 elephants per day, thousands upon thousands per year (in 2011, record numbers for elephant poaching were reached at 22,000 elephants in one year — 2013 has already surpassed this number by 20%).  Elephants in Africa struggle against poachers while Asian Elephants are finding their migratory routes disrupted by high speed trains, their forest homes being destroyed for palm oil plantations and humans stealing their babies to domesticate and use them for tourism in the big cities (elephant street beggars, elephants “playing” in the ocean, forest ele-rides and more). And although outlawed in many areas, using elephants for logging is still big business. Then there are the elephants in captivity around the world suffering from EEHV, arthritis and obesity. The future looks bleak for the world’s largest land mammal.

To be honest, this often overwhelms me. I love elephants deeply and understand the crucial role they play in the ecosystem. Elephants create paths through forests that are used by humans and other animals. These paths also allow sunlight to reach the bottom of the forests to help regenerate the ground foliage. Elephants use their tusks to dig for water, allowing other animals to drink from the newly created water pools in otherwise dry places. Elephants eat a LOT. And that means thousands of plants depend of elephants for their survival, since the elephant distributes the plants seeds across thousands of miles. The list could go on and on about the physical benefits elephants bring to the ecosystem.

But we don’t just need elephants for survival - we need them for our soul. Elephants are some of the most caring animals in all of the animal kingdom. Scientists are amazed at how a herd displays emotions, how a herd cares for one another, how sometimes a herd even cares for other elephants from outside the herd. There was even a case of an elephant caring for a completely different species such as dogs, rhinos & even humans (click on the link to read more about altruism in elephants)! There is something magical about Elephants. If we lose these creatures, we will lose a part of ourselves.


Getty Images

And that is why I started Elephantopia. To raise awareness about these amazing creatures, to educate others about the peril they are in and to provide opportunities for people like you and me to create a harmonious future for elephants and humans to co-exist. Right now it is estimated that 70%  of the illegal ivory trade goes to China & two-thirds of Chinese people do not realize that ivory is obtained only by killing an elephant. And what about where I live, here in the US? Or where you live? How many people know what is going on? How many people even care? That’s where Elephantopia comes in. This page is meant to educate and endear people to elephants.

Sometimes I worry, “is this enough?” The late Nelson Mandela, a man whom the Chicago Tribune stated “achieved more than could be expected of any man,” is quoted as saying (and believing!):


Help change the world. Please share Elephantopia with your friends and family. Let’s continue to teach and share our love of elephants with others.

Elephant matriarch

Federico Veronesi Photography

P.S. Stay tuned for exciting news! This January 2014, I am moving forward to registering Elephantopia as a formal non-profit. There are some very exciting plans in store!

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