A LITTLE BACKGROUND: World Elephant Day was celebrated on 12 August, a fact I was alerted to by the blog A Frank Angle. I was not aware that such a day had been created last year to bring attention to the plight of elephants worldwide. I also did not realize until recently that back in 1996, Elephant Appreciation Day had been established. Elephant Appreciation Day was created to celebrate these gentle giants because they are Endearing, Loyal, Elegant, Powerful, Heavy, Amusing, Nobel, and Talented. (Yes, that spells ELEPHANT!)
Today, 22 September, is Elephant Appreciation Day. Here is my tribute to these impressive animals that have fascinated me as long as I can remember.
I like elephants.
I mean I really like elephants. That is actually no surprise, especially since I have written about them on my blog before. They are huge and possess such unique attributes as a trunk with what amounts to an opposable thumb and ivory tusks that are making them targets of poachers. They have impressive hearing and communicate in a range of vocalizations, many of which humans cannot even hear without instrumentation. They live in social groups. They are frequently trained to work whether it is moving logs, carrying tourists, or performing at circuses. Their young—who are carried in the womb for about 2 years—are just adorable. It was a baby elephant that I fell in love with when I was five!
But it is more than their physical features that make them so remarkable. Although I understand the scientists caution not to attribute human significance to animal behaviors, elephants do seem to exhibit activities that are endearing. They are smart and regularly problem solve, whether it is how to help a fallen elephant stand up or how to bring food to a baby elephant trapped by a raging river. They babysit for each other’s kids, seem to enjoy playing, and have been recorded crying over pain and loneliness. They make friends with not only other elephants but all sorts of animals including people, grieve over the absence of friends and family, and are excited when reunited after years. They seem to be kind, gentle, nurturing, caring. What’s not to like?
They have even been shown to be artistic. Ruby was an elephant at the Phoenix Zoo who liked to paint, choosing her own colors and often duplicating the color combinations she had witnessed in her world onto the canvas. Her work would be described as more modern or abstract. In Thailand, some elephants paint realistic pictures, marveling crowds and helping to earn an income from these shows to help support themselves. Apparently some complain that the talent exhibited by these elephants is not natural, that the mahouts are training the elephants and prompting them through the creation of the art. So what? I don’t care. The results are still pretty phenomenal as seen in each of the three videos below:
These amazing animals are definitely worthy of an Elephant Appreciation Day! So, what do you think? About elephants, or about other terrific animals who deserve their own days?
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Now, here are a few more videos about elephants that you might enjoy!
Two elephants meeting after being separated after more than 20 years. The part showing their reunion starts at about 3:50.
An elephant mourning the death of its dog friend.
The Truth about Elephant Painitng