(C) 2011

Misunderstood Asian Elephants


Asian elephants suffer from exhaustion.
Some are rescued-
others await for more pain,
or redemption.
She supports them.
Loves them.
Wears elephant-everything.
People think she’s a republican.
Forced to obey,
They strive to perform to appeal to the master.
Mixed signals resulting in a painful outcome.
The spirit is all that needs to be broken,
They say-
Pick on someone your own size.


I am obsessed with elephants.  I guess I have known this since our trip to Thailand in November, but I realized today that I collect elephant-garb like a crazy old lady who collects cats.  What can I say?  They are wonderful, brilliant creatures who are misunderstood for a lot of reasons.  They’re big, and things bigger than us tend to make us afraid. 

The traditional techniques used to “break” an elephant in Asia are brutal and torturous.  Using hooks to puncture the elephant’s skin if they “disobey” the masters.  Elephants lose their confidence so easily, that the technique has been transferred from generation to generation.  The problem is, the elephants aren’t learning much because they aren’t trained positively.  They are only negatively punished for doing things wrong and they don’t even know what “wrong” is.

Humans are the ones who don’t know what wrong is.  We think that because we are on top of the food chain, we have rights to destroy everything in our path to make us, as individuals more prosperous.  It’s what we have been doing for thousands and thousands of years.  It’s second nature for us to get angry at things that don’t work for us or accidents that we don’t want to be our fault.  Luckily, some people have been able to think past this anger-filled mindset.  We’re starting to realize that people succeed and learn faster-and more creatively-from a positive learning environment.  Instead of punishing brutally for every simple mistake made, we’re learning to positively congratulate for every skillful thing accomplished.

The Elephant Nature Park is a perfect example of smart people overcoming their fear in order to educate and save Asian elephants using positive reinforcement.    They rescue injured and mistreated elephants throughout Asia and welcome them to their beautiful nature park in northern Thailand.  People come from all over the world to volunteer, bathe and just to be in the company of elephants.  The park also works to educate mahouts (elephant trainers) to encourage their elephants instead of “breaking” them.  The journey to a full-understanding relationship between all humans and elephants is still far-off, but we’re getting closer and closer every day.  You can visit the Elephant Nature Park website to learn more about their wonderful project.

Elephants aren’t the only ones in need of more positive reinforcement.  Our education system breaks down anyone who doesn’t comply with the “standards”.  But, that’s another tale to tell.

We might get angry at people who have been eaten-up by their fear and decided that injuring and ruining the elephant’s spirit is the best way to go.  But, we shouldn’t be angry.  Being angry would defeat the purpose of the positive reinforcement technique.  To educate is the best way to make the awful, yet historic way of training stop.  So, don’t let this article make you mad or upset, just let it inspire and invigorate you to educate others on more peaceful alternatives.  Using this technique not only for elephants, but for everything.  A peaceful, smart response to a situation is much more memorable and decisive.

Learning to accept everyone for what or who they are is something that we, as people, have always had problems with.  But when we feel much better and healthy and from being positive we remember that we’re all in this together.

Below is a photo I took of my new canvas print of a gorgeous photo taken at the Elephant Nature Park.  I added my creative inspiration using Photoshop, and it’s now hanging stunningly in the living room. 

(C) 2011




4 thoughts on “Misunderstood Asian Elephants

  1. Hannah this is really a thoughtful article with many ideas for improvement of the world. I really like your opening poem.

  2. Hi! How long did you stay at the Elephant Nature park? Did you blog about your trip? The site and volunteer opportunities that they list look amazing…

    thanks for the info!

    1. We only were able to stay for one night. But even for one, it was amazing. I would love to go back and volunteer. I didn’t blog the trip, but I did make a video log. I haven’t posted it anywhere yet, but I hope to soon. I will let you know!! Thanks for checking out my blog!

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