AMBASSADOR Kelsey. Yes, I’m brushing off my shoulder.

I’ve never been an ambassador for anything…until now!

A few weeks ago, I applied to become an “Elephant Ambassador” to the city of Toronto. It’s a program run by the Elephant Nature Foundation, which you may remember as the place I volunteered at back in October 2011. Well, I was accepted and I am now officially an elephant lady.

My role? To raise awareness about the plight of Asian elephants.

I’ve written about what I learned at ENP before, and I’ll talk a little bit more about that now. The issue in general is a huge downer, but it’s so, so important. Basically, I learned a lot and the things I saw still haven’t left me. At the park, there were several elephants who had been blinded with a stick after they didn’t listen to their “owners”. There were others that had deformed backs, and many with scars all over their body. All of these injuries and scars were caused by cruelty.

It’s easy to think that the problems faced by elephants are an issue relegated to countries far, far away. That may have been true in the past, but it definitely isn’t now.

For one, if you’re reading this website, you’re probably interested in travel. If you have immediate or future plans to go places like India or Thailand or other places in Asia, you’ll almost definitely have the opportunity to be entertained by Asian elephants in some way. You’ll have the opportunity to ride one or feed one on the street or watch one paint a picture. As an “Elephant Ambassador,” I am here to ask you not to do any of those things. Ever.

The cruelty that goes into training elephants to accept people onto their backs, or to walk the streets amongst traffic, or to use their trunks to make art is terrible. So terrible that I couldn’t sleep for days after watching the training procedures they go through in a documentary. It’s horrible stuff, and it’s for such a stupid reason.

There are complicated cultural arguments when it comes to elephants in other countries, but I have no interest in challenging governments or cultural ideas. Rather, I’m interested in educating people in North America about how their actions are funding abuse (loaded term, I know, but I stand by it). I had no idea, so I know that a lot of other people don’t either.

I plan on doing as much as I can to get the word out, and I’m still brainstorming. For now though, I’m using what I know and love. The almighty Internet.

I’ve created a blog called “Rough Skin, Big Heart,” and it’s definitely still under construction but it’s alive! It’ll be a dumping ground for news, facts, and more about Asian elephants. Check it!

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Comments
One Response to “AMBASSADOR Kelsey. Yes, I’m brushing off my shoulder.”
  1. Susan McNamara says:

    Congratulations Kelsey. So glad that you are following through on helping the Elephants. I had no idea about how elephants were treated and I have seen the elephants painting photos. The elephants were also at the CNE in Toronto and the show provided rides to the public. I believe that show was one to promote the care and perservation of elephants.

    I have enjoyed following your trip and your continuing journey now that you are home.

    Susan

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