I have been brought to streaming tears watching the two videos that American Defenders International (ADI) have released of the company Have Trunks Will Travel allegedly training and handling elephants inhumanely, although the company denies it. Have Trunks Will Travel supplied the elephant, Tai, for the movie Water for Elephants, which was, ironically, about the mistreatment of a circus elephant. Here I talk to some anonymous Asian elephants that reside in the U.S. about how they are treated.
Elephant #1: “I have learned that people are different than elephants. Elephants care about each other. They care about their feelings and their state of health. People do not care about each other or other species. When they abuse us by poking us and hitting us we have damage to our bodies. We have ringing in our ears from the electricity. We have throbbing in our heads and sides from the deepness and intensity of the bull hooks. We have pain in our chest and genitals from the abuse. People are not kind. We are gentle to them because we know the pain they can inflict on us. Some say they love us but their love comes with pain. Elephants do not love the same.”
Elephant #2: “I have gone almost blind from all the shocking they have done to me. They have stuck electric prods up my ears and pounded me on my head. I cannot see well. They beat me when I miss a step. When visitors are close they stroke my trunk as if they love me. They are cruel. I only know sorrow. When I rest my head in one of the younger trainers’ hands she thinks I love her, but I am really praying she will help me and take the suffering away.”
Elephant #3: “I once knew a human that was filled with love and would never abuse an animal. There is something in a human’s eyes that go angry and cruel when an elephant does not understand. I know there are people speaking out for us. But where are they? Why are they not here?”
Elephant #4: “I have been sick inside for a long time. I have witnessed and endured so much. Just a few people have stroked me gently. I came into this world knowing that people do not understand animals. They abuse us in ways that give me nightmares. We are smart. I understand why elephants go angry and kill their trainers. I understand it because sometimes I have dreams of hurting them. But I am not brave enough to follow through. Where would I go?”
Elephant #5: “It is hard to find joy. They do not even allow us to hang out with each other. The oldest human teaches the other humans to be cruel. The humans may come in with love but the older one destroys it in them as he destroys any sense of comfort we may have.”
Elephant #6: “I hope that everyone who cares takes us away from our abusers and puts us at sanctuaries where we do not need to work or be forced to do tricks that hurt our bodies. I feel a mass amount of people who care. I know there is a better life. I can see it in their thoughts. Please help us. Please take us away. The abuse has not stopped. We are still suffering. It is worse than everyone thinks. Do you see happiness in our eyes? Elephants know how to express joy. We are unable to experience happiness here. Please help us.”