Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Can elephants suffer in elephant sanctuaries, as an effect of volonteers exploit and opinions?

A sanctuary by definition is any place of safety. The mission of sanctuaries is generally to be safe havens, where the animals receive the best care that the sanctuaries can provide. Animals are not bought, sold, or traded, nor are they used for animal testing. What distinguishes a sanctuary from other institutions is the philosophy that the residents come first. In a sanctuary, every action is scrutinized for any trace of human benefit at the expense of non-human residents. Sanctuaries act on behalf of the animals, and the caregivers work under the notion that all animals in the sanctuary, human and non-human, are of equal importance. The resident animals are given the opportunity to behave as naturally as possible in a protective environment. (wikipedia)

Road maps of good and bad can be less or more complicated.
The world is not black and white, and sometimes its difficault to say who is the good guy, and who is the bad guy. So, in order to make this clear people use labels. When we speak about religions, its not enough to speak about protestants and catholics, catholics believers are divided into Orthodox Catholic Church etc. Soon our various opinions makes us enemies in topic like religion and politics. Our stone age mind demands that there is good and bad, friends and enemies, and that someone define this for us, so we can be politically correct.

Does it mean there are only bad and good choices? And is it easy to identify what is bad and what is good? Can you do it by Internet forum discussions? And why is it so important to have opinions of a field where we actually lack personal reference? How many people are actually prepared to study something for aperiod of at least 5 years before having an opinion at all?

Today, its very important to be politically correct, and if we want to be accepted, we must follow different codes of ethic and political correctness. Often based on hypcrisy, theres rules for the child naive impression that theres "good" and "bad" things. And as with religions, the rules are not printed in law books, as a result of a democratic society,  they are forced upon other people, wrapped in different threats: if you eat meat, I dont like you, and I will punish you until you change your mind, and you will not be accepted by the community.

As a social mammal, we need to belong to a comunity. And the most effective way of controling other people, is to excpel them from the community, if they dont follow the rules. Stone age democrazy!

Animal Ringtsh Activists continue to manipulate their sisters on forums in Internet . This is a very woman dominated world, with hardly no men active. Its easy to study this on Internet ARA´s (Animal Rights Activists) forums. If you have wrong opinion, the threats comes within minutes; suggesting that you go somewhere else. Theres only room for one opinion, the politically correct one. And the activity on the forum is identifying the enemy, and make war strategies. Often the aggression goes further: "I wish someone would shoot that hunter, can someone whip the circus trainer?  In this environment its best never to question anything, facing the risk of being harassed, punished and expelled.  Its like the church in the medevial, where you were not supposed to question anything. If you did, you would get accused of blasphemy.

ARA´s (Animal Rights Activists) sometimes show similair patterns, and when it comes to elephants, it seems as if the elephants health and wellbeing is not the most important factor, its more important HOW the elephant is cared for, regardless if it may suffer from falsely interpreted or fabricated ideas on how elephants should be managed. Contrary to zoo keeper education which is based om animals most basic needs, subjects like the "soul", "heart" and love of the elephants are discussed, and the opinions are divided in wrongs and rights, and more or less based entirely on phantasies about elephants. The word "LOVE" is repeated over and over again.

Is this less exploiting than riding an elephant?
Now and then those "elephant lovers" actually meet an elephant in real life, and not only on Internet forums.  Only in Thailand, thousand of young westerners, pay millions of dollars in order to cuddle-and-kiss-elephants in a famous elephants sanctuary somewhere, as a Holy Sanctuary Elephant Lover Volunteer. And they teach each other what is "right" and what is "wrong", and the terms are defined as simple as possible, like they were used in the book Animal farm: "two legs bad, four legs good". They know more or less nothing about what elephants eat, or how their skin, or feet, or nail should look like, all they are interested in is give "love" to elephants, and be able to tell stories when they return home about how wonderful the elephant sanctuary they visited is, how they rescue handicapped elephants, and happy those sanctuary elephants are, and how bad all normal riding camps is that just have healthy elephants that are used for riding and worked, like any well cared dog or horse is in captivity.

This means kissing an elephant in a camp, is politically incorrect, since camps are considered bad. But kissing an elephant in sanctuary is considered OK, since sanctuaries are good.
Can the kisser even define the difference, in cathegorizing, except from that the word sanctuary is being used on a website? Are they in fact just searching for an identity, and want other people to confirm that they are good? And in order to do this, they are as much consuming elephants commercially as the one taking a ride?

To the right, you see tourists riding elephants during their "mahout school" at Anantara Golden Triangle Hotel in Chiang Rai, Thailand. They are not overworked, and the camp is scientifically supervised, including a full time veterinarian. Through the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation those elephants also contribute to different projects in Thaland, where money is needed, like mobile clinic, and medical assistans to elephants in northern Thailand. The elephants are in a very good condition, and walking and riding activities keep them healthy.

Since 1955, one of Asias largest elephant festivals is celebrated in Surin in eastern Thailand. Hundreds of elephants are brought there during some days in November, when they perform for visitors. Now an internationally recognized event, the Surin Elephant Round Up also includes elephant talent competitions, demonstration of the various techniques used to capture and train elephants, a presentation of ancient elephant warfare techniques, and a tug-of-war between men and elephants. It is part of the Surin culture.

Michele Shelley Franko, zookeeper at PAWS sanctuary in USA, wrote in November 2012:

"Some traditions, such as this, are meant to die. This is so disrespectful to these beings. At least there are those in Thailand who are striving to make a positive difference for these innocent and brutalized slaves.[...]  A lot of work is currently being accomplished throughout Asia to rescue and rehab Asian eles, while helping and educating mahouts to transition, and at least learn to handle their eles more humanely"  

Michelle wrote this 100 years after William Booth died in  20 August 1912!! People like Michelle actually believe this, that they are enlightening the savages? I think its cultural racism. No people have the right to judges other nations culture, as its not illegal in that country?

William Booth Jr was a British Methodist preacher who founded The Salvation Army and became its first General. He wrote:"We are a volunteer army" Often the beginnings in other countries occurred through "salvationist" activities by non-officers who had emigrated.  What they in fact did, was killing and wiping out ancient cultures armed with white man moral, religion, and non-tolerant attiude towards other peoples religions, cultures, habits, way of thinking.

Sanctuary volounteers often resemble the character of colonial missionaires, with less knowledge in anthropology or native culture, they put all their efforts in trying to destroy thousand years of tradtions and culture, because they think those cultures are "bad" and "wrong".
In 2012 the animal rights activist Jayna Milan started to campaign against elephant camps where tourists can ride an elephant in nature by using terror like method and pressure on Lonely Planet:. Lonely Planet: Urge readers to avoid elephant trekking. Promote Elephant Nature Sanctuary.

Many of those extrememists are members in, or support, PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the most well-known animal rights group in the world.

PETA directly provides funds and support to two groups, ALF (Animal Liberation Front) and ELF. (Earth Liberation Front). The Earth Liberation Front, on September 4, 2002, made the following public statement: "In pursuance of justice, freedom, and equal consideration for all innocent life across the board, segments of this global revolutionary movement are no longer limiting their revolutionary potential by adhering to a flawed, inconsistent "non-violent" ideology. While innocent life will never be harmed in any action we undertake, where it is necessary, we will no longer hesitate to pick up the gun to implement justice, and provide the needed protection for our planet that decades of legal battles, pleading, protest, and economic sabotage have failed so drastically to achieve."

Between 1850 and 1950 riding an elephant in a zoo was a memory for life, for most people. In almost every capitol around the world, there were public elephant rides. Accidents were extremely rare, and the elephants were kept in strong and healthy condition by the work. Now Animal Rights Activists claim it is animal abuse.
When did riding an elephant become abusive? 400 kg was always in the past considered a weight an adult elephant could carry without a problem. Suddenly ARA´s claim an elephant can not have more than 100 kg on its back. What happened, is the elephants smaller today?

This started in the sixties during the hippie "peace-love-and-understanding-era: "Circus" is bad, "zoo" is good. Today its more like "Hooks" are bad, "Target" is good, "Camp" is bad, "Sanctuary" is good. (Sometime also "men" are bad, children and women are good. Unfortunately, the elephants insight in the difference of all those terms, and philosophies, is as limited as the laymen. But unlike the blondes, the elephants can not read the elephant lover Koran/Bible on Internet... Animal welfare is, at least by women, often also also sexy, and is now and then associated with a certain exhibitionism. But the half naked male circus lion trainer with a whip, is a macho="bad", and not sexy.If a nude woman attack a circus, naked is "good", and sexy. Often celebrities and pop-stars expose themselves for this cause.

pop star Kesha
In a radio interview pop star Kesha talked about the inspiration for her new song "Supernatural.":  "Yes, "having sexy time" means what you think it means: Her song is about the time she had sex with a ghost. "I had a couple of experiences with the supernatural. I don't know his name! He was a ghost! I'm very open to it....I was in Africa rehabilitating baby lions. I went diving with great white sharks, and just went on this crazy spirit quest. I got hypnotized, and I just really wanted this record to be really positive, really raw, really vulnerable and about the magic of life."

Young people are searching for an identity, they went to belong to a cultural elite, and they want to travel, and come back with a story that impresses the closest society they belong to. They are mostly uninterested in science, but as volonteers they want "to make a change", to "save" or "rescue" or "help" any animal that looks small and beatiful. Endangered species of snakes, snails, lizards and insects are not very interesting objects, while dolphin and elephants are  very populair to exploit for those young people, often women, who want to be regarded as "good" people, while they think that people with other opinions and ideas, are "bad". A large portion of antropomorfism and mysticism seems to be the base of their attitude to nature and animals, and mostly they find logic and science pretty boring and uninteresting. And to complicated, maybe. Very few of those volounteers seems to be really interested in biology and zoology. It seems their interest in animals is more based on philosophy and politics. And to get a confirmation that they are "good souls" and that they are making some sort of change.

The sanctuaries make BIG MONEY thanks to all those volunteers.

Many volunteers want to place their hands on the trunk and experience "understanding" of elephants,and feel the "love" from the exploited animal, after stuffing them full with tons of sugar rich fruits like bananas, pineapples oranges, melons etc. Many of those elephants seldom see a twig or branches, suffering from tooth problems and similar problems related  to the false diet. On average, some 20% of Asian elephants may carry Tuberculosis, which may be the elephants gift back to the volunteers,a and their boyfriends, children and their families, after their loving abuse of "hang-around-elephants/mahout-for-a-week/make a change: stuff kilos of pineapples into elephants.

They probably dont know that they are exploiting elephants. They probably have no clue that most elephants doesn't want to be petted, kissed and hold by people they never saw before. They probably never saw this film. 

You can see that the elephant in fact is not aggressive, it continue to eat after it hits the tourist. It just want to be left alone. What you see a totally natural reaction from a not handicapped elephant being approached by a stranger.
Those volonteers never learned how to spell tuberculosis, but with their money, they want to make a change. And instead of respecting mahouts from Asia who worked elephants for five thousand of years, the volounteers regard them as primitive, stupid and they think the mhouts should be salvated  by white people who ave better, and more "modern" ideas about elephant management. This attitude is no different than the missionaires 100 years ago.

They often have the opinion, that all those stupid mahouts could learn so much how from them about how to train elephants, and they often also give small pieces of "instructions" and advice the mahouts when they kiss and hug the elephant, while the mahout commands the elephant not to move or hit them, so the volunteers can satisfy their confirmation of being an animal lover. But the truth is, all those volunteers doesnt have a clue about elephant training. They never trained a single elephant in all their life. They know almost nothing about elephants.

Neglected nails on a sanctuary elephant
Most of those sanctuaries, are dependant on tourists money, and therefore depending on their popularity. This means, that even if some elephants suffer from lack of medical care, they dont get relevant threatment, because the elephants can not be controlled. Often they can not be told to put a foot in the air on command for one minut. Its impossible for the "sanctuary-not-hook-using-mahout" to make the elephant go through a normal medical examination that most zoos do on an every day routine basis, why they are dependant on risky anesthesia for threatment, but often it is simply neglected, and the more an animal seem to suffer, the more it satisfy the need visitirs to sanctuaries wants to satisfy.

Handicapped, malnutritioned, suffering elephants that had different kind of accidents, are more valuable, since the visitor "feel" more when then they look at them. An angry, healthy elephant that doesnt want to be kissed is not as attractive as a suffering one, that maybe would have been euthanised in a zoo. People enjoy looking on suffering animals especially if they can "help" those animals. To streangthen their identity, they want to belive that they are helping. Thats why the suffering puppy is so easy to sell. The sad puppy on the picture starts feelings, and especially women actually undergo endocrinology changes within seconds. A need to love, hug, kiss, help and save the puppy starts. It creates emotions, which some people will actually pay for.

Not seldom, it can be compared to when public could pay to look on physically or mentally suffering humans on display in "hospitals" some centuries ago.

Lets stop here for a second, and ask, could many of the displayed suffering people have been helped and cured? For sure, with modern medical science.
But what if the "hospital" earns more money, by not not curing the patients? By satisifying the needs for visitors who want to see suffer, and is willing to pay for it.

May this be the same for some elephants in sanctuaries? Is it even possible, that more "suffering elephants are actually being "produced" for this industry, and that the mahouts import them from Burma, to satisfy the demand, and sell to the sanctuaries? Most populair sanctuaries buy or rent their handicapped elephants, but the term "buy" is not used, those elephants are always refered to as "rescued". (Political labels again...)

Such elephants are perfect for sanctuaries, often handicapped, weak, in terrible shape, they dont display a normal healthy elephant behaviour.

Often being more or less powerless, they are seldom aggressive, so just about anyone can approach them without a hook and have an experience of looking into their mind, understanding them, and other bullshit people think they are experiencing when they look deep into the eye of a suffering elephant, whos pain could be released with euthanasia. Such an elephant is a good investment. (Photo is from the elephant sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, USA)

And once "rescued", they should be as spoiled as possible, but not spoiled with good care and good diet, they should be spoiled with everything that young female westerners with rich fathers think they need, and since most humans like sugar and fruits, but seldom branches, this is what elephants often are fed in sanctuaries, apart from sugar cane leaves and similair.

Often they are served all fruits by a bar, by the westerners, standing on a ramp, having pictures taken. Not having an idea which various bacterials the elephant may have in their trunk.

This was called elephant public feeding in Zoos, and was mostly prohibited during the seventies, of medical and behaviour reasons.

Elephant public feeding is a lot of fun for the feeders, but also creates wrong behaviour patterns, for the elephants that in the wild  search for food 16 hours/day. Elephants know how to eat themselves, they dont need to be hand fed. Both humans and elephants can carry diseases which are effectively spread by contact bewteen the hands and the trunk.

Road maintenance at Mwaluganje elephant sanctuary.
Not to forget, thcose foreigner want to work also, and since they have limited knowledge, they end up with alot of interesting activities which they would probably never do in their hometown

Sometimes they perform different activities for weeks, that a tractor and a driver could do in an hour.

Or they spend an hour cutting fruits in pieces for an animal whose molars can crush large branches.

And as they perform different kind of body labour, they think this is an ecological gift they give, not realizing that its the dollars that counts. They mostly return home and think they did something important.

And maybe it was to them. But not always for the elephant, because there is a price they have to pay, by spending time in this loving environment, where their care or not always taken care of, since work with hooks would lead to complains by the visitors.

Abcesses in ALL FOUR FEET on an elephant in Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand, where elephant hooks are officially prohibited, leading to untrained elephants who can not anymore recieve normal veterinary care.
Abcesses like this in Elephant Nature Park can not be treated with blue spray, its simply not enough. They need to be cleaned and cured by veterinarians, and those vets will be dependant on mahouts that can control the elephant.

An elephant on a european circus, with such problems, would most probably become confiscated, unless medical care would be provided by the circus. But this elephant in an Asian sanctuary, is "loved" and will not get normal veterinary treatment, and the abcesses will not be cleaned, since this can only be made with traditional training methods.

So when we discuss animal abuse, it must not be forgotten, that animals are sometimes abused in "sanctuaries" who doesnt take full responsibility for their elephants, but value the dollars from volonteers more, and the neglect of the animals origin in the simple fact that the volonteers would stop sending money if the mahouts would use hooks. And a circle is closed.

Heres two films showing the extremely poor status of training the elephant has, the veterinarian is powerless, all he can do is trying to put some bluespray on the abcesses, which is far from enough. The elephant should have been taken to an elephant hospital long time ago.

Unsuccesful attempt to treat foot abcesses in all four feet on an elephant in an Elephant Nature Park, an "elephant sanctuary" in Chiang Mai, in Thailand. Elephant hooks are officially prohibited, why the control of the elephants by the mahouts is drastically radically reduced, resulting in almost no existing medical care of this elephant, and other suffering elephants in the sanctuary. If this elephant would have been located on an european circus, it would have been confiscated. Now, thousand of volonteers walk by this elephant every year, and believe that its the ideal way of managing elephants. Abuse of elephants has become the opposite for animal rights people, they rather let an elephant suffer, becasue of neglected medical care, than giving the elephant medical treatment, which need the use of elephant hooks.

Lets face it, most welfare people and volonteers cant see when an elephant is suffering, but they belive that an elephant trained with a hook does. They are not veterinarians, did not worked decenniums with elephants, they are just reapeting the anti-hook philosophy as a mantra. And they think that a mahout, who use a hook, can not "love" elephants. And they dont see a need for hooks, dont see the ned for that in order to fully control an elephant, and make it lift it leg, and put it on an object for foot care, and see to that the elephant stands still as long as it takes to manage the foot care.

Now, people may argue, this can be done with protected contact. And yes, upto a certain point, and never as effective as in free contact. And you need a lot of manpower. What takes one keeper to do in 10 minutes, when using free contact, may take 30-40 minutes, with 3 keepers.

Protected contact is very time and manpower consuming, and expensive, still it does not provide as high level of manegament as with free contact. Cologne Zoo and Copenhagen Zoo in Europe are examples of PC Zoos, whith high ambitions of management. They have more than 10 keeper each, educated in PC.

Is this really a relevant concept for Asia to imitate, just to satisfy demands of volonteers and sponsors?

 Animal rights people claim that elephants in camps does not come in first place, its second to the focus on commercial interest and satisfying the demand from their visiting tourists, and MAY compromize the elephants health during the process.

I say sanctuaries are as much focused on commercial interest and to satisfy the demands from their volonteers and their sponsors and MAY as well compromize the elephants health during the process.

Good is sometimes bad also? So does it mean that sanctuaries are bad?

An elephant gets proper medical treatment under scientific supervision
-No, but if the animals health should be given best possible care under whatever the circumstances, the management has to be based on scientific principles, not on the visitors feelings. In this world theres always different components that has to be considered, and for suffering elephants, with physical problems,  "feelings" are sometimes secondary to scientific knowledge and experience, in order to cure and rehabiliate an animal as fast as possible, reducing the suffer, and seing to that the animals health is improved ASAP.

Maybe some of those rescued elephants are in need to be rescued from the rescuer, maybe they would actually benefit of being transfered from the love-kiss-and-cuddle environment, brought to a place where a normal mahout work them normally with a hook, so they can be controlled even for medical care, or just something so basic as a normal footcare?

Now and then, it may be important to ask yourself, what is best for this animal, taken care of by experienced veterinarians and experienced keepers, that can control the animal effectively during an examination, treatment or operation, until its ready to be transfered to an environment that also satisfy the mental needs, or is it better to neglect the physical problems, while strictly following a no-hook using philosophy?

Is possible that sanctuaries sometimes abuse an animal physically, by following a strict rule, that is more associated with philosphy, than knowledge and experience¨, while the elephants health could be taken care of in minutes, following traditional methods?

Is it even possible that a sanctuary sometimes actually commercially exploit elephants, as much as the place it was rescued from? Can neglect ever be defended, arguing that it is following a politically correct philosophy?

I believe that a good sanctuary has to be run independantly of its sponsors layman knowledge.

They may be welcome paying visitors and volonteers, but visitors and sponsors should not run the show.

Wonderful work done, by competent people
And if a sanctuary make the visiting volonteers interpretations about elephant management the priority, rather than the animals real need, is it hen really a sanctuary? Can it be justified that a sanctuary let elephant suffers, because the management policy includes a good cause? Shall the animals real needs come first, or welfare people ideas about the animals needs?

If a sanctuary has an "animal friendly" policy, which restrict a good medical for some of their elephants, is it then really a sanctuary? I guess most people would think not. If an elephant could be helped, using traditional training methods, but its care is neglected out of pseudo-religious reasons, or new age philosophy, for sure this kind of abuse can be compared with the complains welfare people have against elephant camps.

And does even the elephant understand the difference? Is the elephant even aware of human labelling, and appreciating it is "loved" while it have pain in the feet, since the care is neglected?

Is the Sanctuary label just an abstract human invention, having no meaning for the elephants themselves?
And are sanctuaries indeed harmful for some elephants, that would get a better apropiate care somewhere else, by veterinarians, who have years of experience of curing, but are uninterested in new age philosphy, while being busy to satisfy the basic needs of the animal.
I think elephants are very basic, and in need of having the basic beeds satisfied, and that "love" is secondary. And I think that regardless if its an elephant camp, a zoo or a sanctuary, those labels are secondary and pretty uninteresting, they are just political expressions. And whatever label one uses for an any commercial elephant operation, satisfying the elephants basic needs shall not be neglected, even if one must use elephant hooks, chain restraint or other devices, unpopulair among welfare people, in order to give best care.

Because othervise we may end up with only "love" and politics in sanctuaries, while in fact, some elephants are abused, and would benefit from a confiscation from the "elephant lovers".

Also sanctuaries must take a full resonsibility for the animals under their care, even if the methods to do so, leeds to complains among their sponsors and volonteers. Othervise its not a true sanctuary, just using the label to attract donors. Or, its in reality, a bad sanctuary.

Something interesting is that many sanctuaries, also attack other institutions, critisizing alternative ways of manage elephants, and try to take monopoly on being the best place for elephants. At the same time, theres a tendency to avoid being compared to commercial operations, but on each sanctuary website you can read the words donate, support, sponsor, gift, instead of ticket price.

Elephants are not bought, but "rescued".
Sanctuaries seems to occupy themselves with alot of politics. Why?

Are there any good sanctuaries, and how can then a "good" sanctuary be defined?
And can we demand the same standard of quality of elephant management from a sanctuary, as we would do from a commercial  elephant camp with riding operations? Would it be better to send the worst medical cases to an elephant hospital run scientifically by veterinarians, insetad of exploiting them on some sandy field, just to satisfy the needs of  thousands of volounteers that pay enourmus sums to th sanctuary owners?

Many of those Asian sanctuaries make $ 5 000/ day, the "Elephant Nature Park" in Thailand makes over $ 10 000/day.
This is a lot of money for a concept, which is claimed not being commercial, and not making profit. Most of the sanctuaries does not have a transparent economy, and they seldom follow a scientific program in their medical care.



  1. GFAS has a good article:
    The Truth About Sanctuaries - Legitimate Sanctuaries versus Pseudo-Sanctuaries
    It's important to have a common definition. Of course, those that profit off tourism like using the word "sanctuary" to attract business.

  2. How would you answer the question, Dan? Are there any good sanctuaries, and what is the definition of a good sanctuary?

  3. I think a good sanctuary should do whatever needed to take good, responsible, care of their elephants, as any location with elephants, anywhere. And the focus shall be on the basic needs of the elephants, not the illusions laymen have about good care. I fhooks are needed, they should be used, since philosophy does not cure abcesses. A certain degree of control is essential to provide a safe and well managed environment for captive elephants, anywhere. And a good sanctuary should be focused on the elephants needs, not the visiting guests/volunteers. At best, a sanctuary should also be located where elephants can enjoy as much natural habitat as possible (forest, not previous farm land), even if its not so close to the mainstream tourist areas.

  4. Another perspective.

    For centuries, world cultures have arisen and been shaped by dominator cultures. Dominator cultures are systems of top-down rankings ultimately backed up by fear or force. In these millennia-old worldwide authoritarian social models, women, children, and animals are subordinated. Animal captivity and domination is a result of this history.

    Science has recently uncovered how destructive captivity and domination are to many animals given their shared biology (eg, mammals). Captivity/being dominated is a lifestyle that bathes the body in fear hormones. Chronic fear or traumatic stress impairs genes in neuron and synapse generation and compromises immunology. This can lead to other serious physical problems and a shortened life.

    “Internet experts” and other animal advocates recognize suffering and want it to end no matter where it exists in the world. Some may see this as a cultural intrusion. But causing deliberate prolonged suffering is antithetical to the laws of nature itself. As trauma expert, Dr. Paul F. Dell states: “Deliberate cruelty and the instrumental use of others is the sole province of homo sapiens.” It is this conscious or unconscious knowing that drives many in their efforts to counter traditional animal management styles.

    Sadly, Asia has a heavy tourism industry. Many tourists want to experience different human-animal connections than they can at home. As we all know, ignorance among tourists is rampant.

    By understanding our history and acknowledging new science we will be able to effectively move the human race beyond the historical confines of a dominator culture which will benefit all beings on this planet. Understanding and defining true sanctuary is a step in that direction.

  5. Dear Anonym, I hope all fance words about ethics and traumas can cure the elephant with the abcesses. Or others, that died because of false diet and teeth problems. I think Elephants need good care, not words, not philosphy, or ethics.

  6. It's not "fance words about ethics and traumas." It's peer-reviewed SCIENCE. Sadly you are not informed and up to date. No one is saying to neglect physical injuries. But those are assumptions you make along with assuming that I am implying elephants should not get good care. You are missing a lot of relevant points. It's too bad.

  7. Im sorry, theres, to my knowledge, no scientific "elephant sanctuary". The elephant with huge large abcesses seem to be as less updated on what you are talking about as me. The pictures are not assumptions, they are taken with a Nikon D90. Appearently, a "sanctuary" can not provide basic medical care for needing animals. It doesnt make a sanctuary worse than a zoo, or a circus, its just prove that the label is a fake, nothing more, nothing less. And that elephants can suffer in a sanctuary because of human religions or philosophy. Which means that the label is false, elephants sanctuaries, does not always, per defenition, provide a safe environment for elephants. Especially not for those that needs urgent medical care.

  8. the very point Dan is trying to make is how the human race is using animals and our perceived or even self inflicted sense of trauma and despair upon the animals, projecting our own human emotion for the purpose of defining one's self as an enlightner of the human race, exploiting the animal unconsciously. A hypocrisy for those who campaign against zoos for example as exploiters, for money. Its like "look at me I am a superior human I see the light and will help take the human race to a higher level of consciousness" This kind of thinking is rampant and people do use the rescue or support of rescue via "sanctuary" for example to define themselves in a complicated world. Most cannot work hands on for the instant results they need to satisfy their emotional reactions to animal suffering, especially when dealing with species other than pets like cats and dogs. To work cooperatively to save a species where the results of your efforts might not be felt or seen until long after you are dead isnt good enough, people want to feel good now and to create their self definition now, it is not instantly gratifying enough otherwise. Sanctuaries in North America could fall under this category as well. They make money off these animals, keep them in enclosures and display them to the public, the difference that divides is their mandate, they define their purpose as "good" vs "bad". But that is their definition of what bad is and that definition breaks hearts with expensive advertising campaigns and often loaded propaganda. In summary perhaps the point is that people need to start educating themselves and evaluating their ideologies and those they support based on those ideologies with more intellect and logic and less bias and emotional responses so that we can better define what is good and what is bad not just because of a label that seems to match your own labels set influenced by opponents in competition with one another for money and attention and support. If we let emotional intelligence degrade to the point that emotions are driving our decisions we are not evolving as a species we are devolving, there has to be balance. Example, we can just say all zoos are bad because they are not all bad and we cannot say all sanctuaries are good because they are not all good. We must explore the grey matter inbetween, without apathy and laziness. By sourcing and learning and researching these causes we choose to a adhere to so strongly rather than just letting others define the cause for us.

    1. Thank you, dear Anonym, I believe you have managed to interprete my message pretty clear. We can not assume that all is well with elephants, just because they are walking under the label "sanctuary".

      And we can not assume that elephants suffer, because they are walking under the label "Zoo".

      And we have to consult our brain, not our heart, to realize that.

      And as far as I can see, theres no "non-commerical" elephant sanctuaries. Since all of them are private, and often with a non-transparent economy, they are in fact more commercial than any government zoo, in my opinion.

  9. How is a sanctuary any less "captive" than a zoo or circus? If captivity causes fear hormones, then a sanctuary elephant would have them too. I'm not familiar with your reference, but was it on first generation captives, second generation captives, or what? Where do domestic creatures fit? Elephants have been used by people for about as long as horses, though I wouldn't claim they are as domesticated. They are certainly not completely without human intervention. The elephants mahouts (and zoos) have have been chosen for temperament and ability to adapt to humans. I would think that would matter to their "fear hormones." I'm sure there is some genetic survival component to it, and that is one of the things we select for in domestication (again, I'm not claiming elephants are domesticated, but living with humans for so long clearly would at least affect their selection pressures. similar to the beginning domestication of other livestock).

    If no elephants should be captive in any environment and never interact with "capturers" like mahouts, then there will soon be no elephants. I think some ARAs would prefer it that way.

    1. I agree to this also, however, theres no domesticated elephants. Until 1958, I guess a second generation elephant was very rare. The first 2:nd generation in my database is Charkowtschanka born 1958 at Kharkiv Zoo.

      I can not find any 3 generation captive elephant until Bernhardine, born 1984 in Rotterdam Zoo (Diergaarde Blijdorp).

      Today, there a couple of 4 generation elephants. Still, 4 generation is more or less nothing, viewed in issues of domestication, and/or selection of genetical material.

  10. rather than calling it captive why not "in our care"? Zoo elephants do a great service to their wild kin through education and they are in our care while they do so. the word captive can be used as a tool of propaganda, its captive, the bullhook is a tool of domincance, all words used strategically to play on the heartstrings of the emotionally feeble in my opinion to cash in on peoples bank accounts. Sanctuaries in North America do not educate the public about wild elephants just the abuses they claim exist in zoos and circuses. And those "who cannot bear the animals pain" are smitten by the message being delivered. They can relate, they project their own emotions and also satisfy their own emotions. they cant bear it so if they support and donate their own pain is alleviated, in effect using the animals suffering to alleviate their own emotional ills. This is self serving and something animal rights activists need to be more honest with themselves about. If you emotionally balanced you can find the true path to caring for animals and evolving as a human if your emotions tips the scales in your everyday actions, outweighing rational thinking this is where we run into the great divide which is between those who have hope and believe in conservation and those who are in despair and have abandoned hope for the future of wild species therefore they focus on what they feel is within their grasp in the here and now. Sad but true. Allot of wasted energy and money that could be going into saving wild species for the sake of the few vs the many.

  11. Thank you Dan.

  12. This is a truly excellent article, Dan. I simply did not know how bad things were. Oh, how I loath animalentalists.

  13. I believe the word that could be used, for those "suffering" from emotional overzealousness, would be "seeking relevance". And the ARAs know this. And the propaganda is aimed at this emotional "need". I have personally seen major errors in elephant handling amongst the no contact sanctuaries, that have led to injuries and deaths, that, even if they had followed their own "commandments" could have been avoided. But without bull hooks, and hands on close contact, the tools for handling a 8000-12,000pound mind, are extremely limited, leading to drugging, and ill behaviours. I know some animals have been herbally reconditioned, for nominal control. I appreciate your article, and totally agree.