A Memory Like an Elephant

[bs_well size=”md”]“Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)[/bs_well]

Apparently it is true that elephants never forget. This means when they are separated from their elephant families to entertain us in the circus or zoo they never forget the ones left behind. Apparently elephants also grieve, more than we realize. The quote below is from the web site of the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN. (www.elephants.com). I learned about the place from the fascinating book Leaving Time by one of my favorite authors, Jodi Picoult.

As is well known, elephants across Africa are in trouble. During the past decade an estimated one-fifth of the continent’s elephants have been poached, bringing their numbers down to about 400,000, according to a report from the U.S. State Department released in March 2016.

In 2014, Kenya enacted tough new laws that make ivory poaching and trafficking punishable by fines of $200,000, or even life in prison, compared to the maximum fines of about $400 that were handed out previously. Stricter laws and better enforcement are having an effect. According to the African Wildlife Foundation, 93 elephants were poached last year, down from 384 in 2012.

Picoult’s book is a page-turning account of fictional characters caring for elephants in a fictional New England sanctuary. It’s not a nature book. It’s a murder mystery with fascinating characters and a surprise ending that will keep your reading to the last paragraph.

However, along the way you’ll learn how far humans have strayed from the Creator’s instructions. The elephant characters in Leaving Time are all based on real elephants that were in great need of rest and recuperation. Some came from circuses where they lived in chains most of their lives. Some from zoos where they fared better, but were often separated from their families, leaving them to grieve alone in strange places.

Though we tend not to think about it, we humans are mammals and dependent on other living creatures for sustainable life on this planet. It might go better if we showed a little respect for all the living creatures entrusted to our care.

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