Todays post is something Carter and Olivia have been wanting to write for a few weeks now. Ever since they watched the movie “How I Became An Elephant”
We are posting this video so you too can understand why this story has to be told:
A few years ago the Cole Brothers circus came to Atlanta and I told my wife that I should get tickets and take Carter and Olivia. They had never been, and come to think of it, I had only been once in my life and that was many years ago. When I went it was because the circus was coming to our town and they offered free tickets to any kid under the age of 11 who wrote a letter listing the top 10 reasons why they wanted to be a circus clown. The winner would get in free and get to be a clown for a day. Long story short, I entered the contest and ended up winning first place.
I don’t remember much about the event other than what they had me focus on and that had to do with the typical clown antics etc. I remember seeing circus animals like the elephant but not much more. So when the same circus announced they were coming here, I wanted to take my kids and show them how much fun they could have etc.
When we showed up, I was amazed as to how small the circus was and how few people attended. As I excitedly tried to get my kids to understand how much fun a circus is and what it was like to be a clown, I found myself having a hard time getting them in the same frame of mind. Both of them kept asking me questions about the sad looking elephant which was paraded around the center ring. It looked very old and as if it had not eaten properly in weeks. It’s stare was so blank and expressionless. Carter at one point asked me if the elephant was sick because it looked so sad. I immediately shrugged his comments off by explaining that the elephant was probably tired and that I was sure they give him the best of care. All the while, I too was starting to notice how sickly the elephant and the horses looked that night.
(Here is another video. It was hard finding one that is not too graphic for our audience but will still help get the point across.)
When we returned home, I told my wife how disappointing the circus was and how Carter and Olivia seemed more concerned about the condition of the animals, than they were with having fun. We agreed that this would be our last visit to a circus.
I never gave it much thought again after that visit until the kids started this organization. A few weeks ago Olivia, out of the blue asked me if I remembered the poor elephant from the circus and if I thought he was being treated better. I asked her why she suddenly thought about that elephant and she surprised me by saying she often thinks about him and wonders if he is okay. She asked me if we could do some research about circus animals to see if their were more that looked so sad. I told her I would and thanked her for caring so much.
As I started searching for answers, it became obvious that the circus is not the Greatest Show On Earth, in fact they are probably the Worst Shows On Earth when it comes to how they treat animals. We are not here to preach to you and tell you how much of a bad person you are if you take your kids to a circus. What Carter and Olivia are hoping by posting this segment and the video, is that you will think twice before supporting these companies who host the events and know that as long as people buy tickets to these shows, the cruelty will continue.
Here is a video which also shows the barbaric conditions and harsh treatment elephants have to endure for mans greed. We recommend adults watch this before showing younger viewers:
This is Coral Tree Films submission for the Philadelphia film festival.
In October 2008 ten elephants were captured in Southern Zimbabwe. They were sent to Sondelani Lodge in Southern Matabele. The owner of the lodge, Basil Steyn, had captured the elephant to break them in for elephant back safaris.
The process used to train the elephant is a brutal, violent and lengthy process. Word got to the ZNSPCA (Zimbabwean National Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals), that the elephant were being held in appalling conditions and that all of the elephant captured were in a dreadful physical condition. One of the young animals died as a result of the training methods. The youngest surviving elephant was four years old and the eldest “Mary” was guessed to be about twenty years old. Mary was pregnant.
The elephant were purchased by the ZNSPCA along with international animal welfare organization, Vier-Pfoten. The objective was to rehabilitate the elephant and release them back into the wild. Never before had a herd of captured wild elephant been successfully rehabilitated and released back into the wild. If the process were successful it would be a world first.
Immediately after the death of “Dumasani” a five year old baby elephant, Coral Tree Films started filming the rehabilitation of the elephants in July 2009.The nine surviving elephants, Jack, Mary, Mancube, Jessica, Emma, John, Emily, Nomalanga and four year old Baby Girl, began their compassionate road to recovery. Cameras were trained on the traumatized herd from July 2009 until March 2010. In this time the herd was slowly taught to trust man, and to regain the dignity they had before they were ripped from the sanctuary of the Zimbabwean bush. The project was almost aborted on numerous occasions. The infighting between the elephant owner and the welfare organizations involved, nearly led to the rehabilitation teams eviction from Sondelani. If this was not enough, the volunteers from around the world, were subjected to what can only describe as barbaric bullying from hunters opposed to the rehabilitation of the elephants. The documentary focuses on the drama surrounding the people involved in this process. The challenges faced by both man and elephant, it climaxes with the birth of Mary’s baby, free in the African bush.
None of the material in the documentary has been shown on any channel worldwide.
Nine Little Elephants is a “true life” documentary. The emotions that were captured over the nearly one year of filming make this a compelling and at times heart-wrenching story. The producers had access to all the drama that went into the rehabilitation of the elephants. The hope and despair of the elephants were documented every step of the way through out their arduous rehabilitation journey, the climax of the documentary has had a test screening audience in tears.
Carter and Olivia are involved with many initiatives, most of which are going to be long and hard battles to win. This on the other hand is one of the easiest ones to win. If we can all just stop going to circuses, we will have effectively shut them down and they will no longer have the resources to keep animals of any kind and the vicious cycle will stop.
Thanks for listening and as always, we welcome your comments below.
Best regards from the entire OMG Team
Watch Carter and Olivia present at TEDx Youth.
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