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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

A Tale of Two Elephants

Published 06/22/09
By Susan Trout, Program Assistant

Elephant enthusiasts are having a difficult time lately. Several elephant deaths have made the news. One elephant in particular, Echo, lived her life as nature intended — wild and free as the matriarch of a strong elephant family in Africa for at least 36 years! Elephants are extraordinarily family-oriented creatures. Echo lived her life and cared for her family in freedom. Regardless of life’s difficulties she met every challenge and prevailed.

Far away, in the most developed and wealthy nation on the planet, caretakers mourn the death of Ned. How different was Ned’s life. He lived in abject misery for many years. Ned was born at Busch Gardens, and at two was forced to perform for the Big Apple Circus until 2000. Ned was then traded to another circus trainer who hired him out to the Royal Hannaford circus until his emaciated condition captured the attention of the USDA who subsequently removed Ned in November 2008. His former owner was cited for failure to comply with the Animal Welfare Act. Ned was placed with The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and when he arrived there he was a ton (yes, that’s 2,000 pounds!) underweight. Photographs showed him resembling a starved cow or horse — protruding bones and sagging skin.

Ned’s new-found freedom and loving care were tragically short-lived. Despite all efforts to stabilize him, he collapsed and on May 21 peacefully passed away. Ned was only 21 years old — 15 years younger than his wild African sister, Echo. Such a clear and cruel contrast between Ned and Echo, but one that is seldom noticed by most people who rarely think of animals beyond their perspective as an owner of a domestic pet.

How long will it to take before enough people embrace the concept that we have no right to enslave and imprison these awe-inspiring creatures for our amusement and selfish interest? Claiming ignorance doesn’t cut it — there’s far too much evidence to prove these animals suffer — both physically and mentally. We must place their needs first.

Would you help us speak for the elephants?

Click here to find out what you can do to help animals, especially endangered elephants.

Till next time,


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