An Elephant’s Tale, Part 1

November 1, 20120 Comments

The first few years of my life were wonderful. I lived with my mother and aunties in Africa and roamed many miles together. Every day was an adventure but I was never scared because I knew my family would protect me.  No matter where we went in search of food or water, those bigger and wiser than me would guide me and I thrived in the warmth of their love.

That all changed one horrible day when I was just two years old; still a baby. As an elephant toddler, I got most of my meals by nursing at my mother’s side. Not only was her drinking her milk important to my growth, it was a special time that helped comfort me. But one day men in trucks chased us for miles. My short legs grew tired and soon I was captured! My mother and aunties tried to defend me and trumpeted loudly to frighten the men but it was no use; the small two-legged creatures stole me away from my family and I never saw them again.

I was forced into the back of a dark, noisy truck by the men and their sharp sticks and electric prods. I stretched my small trunk as high as I could to a tiny window so that I could smell my home disappearing in the distance. From the truck, I was forced into an airplane and tied with many ropes and chains so that I would not break free when I panicked. I was so very frightened! I had never before been more than a few feet from my mother and I had never before been confined in a small space. Where was my mother’s comforting milk? Where was the wide open range that was my home?

After the terrifying airplane ride that lasted many hours, I was drug out of the plane into the bright light in a new country. I didn’t recognize the smells or the sounds of this strange land and I was even more frightened. I could not smell another elephant anywhere near; I was alone and very lonely. My tender hide was rubbed raw by the ropes that had kept me from moving and flies bit at my bleeding skin.

I was at an amusement park where human families came to ride roller coasters and watch animals perform tricks. Their screams of joy sounded like terror to me and I trumpeted as loud as I could. To my surprise, I heard another elephant call back to me and then another! These elephants were not my family, but maybe they could protect me!

How I longed for one of these stranger elephants to curl their trunk around me and let me know that I was now safe. But the humans would not let me near them. I was forced into a large, cold building and my little feet were chained to the floor so that I could not reach the others. I stretched my trunk as far as I could but still could not touch another of my kind.

That night, I rocked from side to side trying to comfort myself, but I was too hungry and sad to sleep. I was not given any food, only a little stale water. Even though I was still just a baby, the humans wanted to keep me weak for what was to come next.  The old elephant chained near me told me that the next few days would be terrible for me. That the humans would try to “break” me so that I would always obey them.

She was right. The very next day, when I was still exhausted from my long journey across the sea, an angry man and his helpers used many hard ropes to drag me to the ground.  They climbed on top of me, beat me with broom handles, jabbed me all over with sharp sticks, and did other cruel things to me. Any time I tried to defend myself or escape, they would beat me harder. It was the worse experience of my life and there was nothing I could do but cry. They left me tied, laying on the ground for several days, coming back every couple of hours to start the beating again. Only when I stopped fighting them and lay exhausted and without hope, did they stop the abuse. I was allowed to stand and given food and water.

I hoped that this would be the end of my terrible life at the hands of man, but it was only the beginning.


While this story is fictional, it is based on real facts. Below are videos of baby elephants who lived the reality of this abuse.

Filed in: AllCircusCurriculumIssue Education

About the Author ()

As a former amusement park elephant trainer turned animal activist, Tracee has a unique perspective into the world of animals in the entertainment industry. She now lives on a farm in Northern California, where, when not writing, she spends her time caring for the many animals she has rescued.

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