Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us about Humanity
G. A. Bradshaw
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Drawing on accounts from India to Africa and California to Tennessee, and on research in neuroscience, psychology, and animal behavior, G. A. Bradshaw explores the minds, emotions, and lives of elephants. Wars, starvation, mass culls, poaching, and habitat loss have reduced elephant numbers from more than ten million to a few hundred thousand, leaving orphans bereft of the elders who would normally mentor them. As a consequence, traumatized elephants have become aggressive against people, other animals, and even one another; their behavior is comparable to that of humans who have experienced genocide, other types of violence, and social collapse. By exploring the elephant mind and experience in the wild and in captivity, Bradshaw bears witness to the breakdown of ancient elephant cultures.
All is not lost. People are working to save elephants by rescuing orphaned infants and rehabilitating adult zoo and circus elephants, using the same principles psychologists apply in treating humans who have survived trauma. Bradshaw urges us to support these and other models of elephant recovery and to solve pressing social and environmental crises affecting all animals, human or not.
(elephant), 131 phenotypes, changes in, 71 Philadelphia Zoo, 113 pica, 110-11 Pickover, Michele, 228, 231 Pilanesberg National Park, xv-xvii, 77-79, 237 Plath, Sylvia, 171 play, 28 Pliny the Elder, 56 poaching: demographic effects of, 61, 62, 238; psychological effects of, 12. See also hunting polarity, 177 policy, in South Africa, 224-38 politics: science and, 244; trauma and, 124 Poole, Joyce, 11, 18, 27, 163 population: control of, 74, 224-38; declining, 37, 56, 61, 62, 67,
have the name of Osama bin Laden scrawled across them, and newspapers are filled with stories of villagers battling elephants. (Indeed, one elephant in India dubbed Osama, said to have killed eleven people, was caught and killed in Jharkhand, shot twenty times.)35 Similar to African elephants, Asian elephant numbers have plummeted, but exact numbers are uncertain. Thailand’s permanent secretary for natural resources and the environment, Saksit Tridech, states, “We expect captive elephants to
friends and family. Other graduates never return, sharing just a single farewell, one final gesture of love and appreciation, before leaving forever for unknown lives. As bittersweet as farewells are, they represent a victory for the Trust caregivers. They have succeeded in bringing an elephant soul back to life, and cultivating an elephant who feels like an elephant and is able to live like an elephant on her own with her taxo-nomic kin. The transition from human family to elephant family is
human-made environment created to rehabilitate animals who have suffered psychologically and physically under captivity. In clinical studies, participant anonymity is protected. Researchers are required to procure each subject’s consent or, where competency is uncertain, approval of a guardian or supervising physician. Protection holds even for deceased subjects. No consensus exists for parallel treatment of animals other than humans. I have used given names in lieu of maintaining anonymity in
specific to an awareness of the mirror’s reflecting quality. Zoo life is routine. Residents follow a schedule shaped to human schedules and customs. Feeding, bathing, veterinary check-ups, training, and exhibition times are regimented, and living quarters are spare compared with life in the wild. Exhibits are generally concrete, with bars and barriers, and not infrequently animals are bereft of companionship. Even if there are other conspecifics (others of their own species) with whom to