• Don Lichterman

Keira, Arya, Asha, The Urban Elephant, A Tale of Two Shirley's are in the Elephant in the Room!

A Petition by Keira (11 years old) to Ban Domestic Trade of Ivory in the United States of America

Help stop the domestic trade of ivory in the United States of America. You may believe that this only affects elephants, but that would be so wrong. It also affects walruses, hippopotamuses, killer whales, narwhals, sperm whales, and wart hogs. By killing just one, you are throwing back their population by a couple of years. But it is not like we are just killing one.

There is research that says that approximately 96 elephants per day in Africa are being killed for their ivory. More elephants are being killed than are being born. We are not just stunting these populations, but also sometimes killing the newborns. The number of orphaned elephants has grown drastically. It is hard for orphaned elephants to live because they are fully dependent on their mothers’ milk for the first two years of life. Because of this, most baby elephants can’t live in the wild after their mothers are killed. Imagine that you were taken away against your will from your kid, knowing that they don’t have the right resources to live. How would you feel?

Please help the elephants so that no elephant mother has to feel that way.

Thank you,

Keira (11 years old)

We would like to introduce you to an elephant named Arya.

We don’t know much about Arya, but the little we have learned about this 55-year-old elephant has touched us deeply and made us determined to help her. She is completely blind in both eyes and desperately needs medical care. We don’t know how she became blind or how long her world has been in complete darkness, but one thing is for certain, she deserves a better life. Arya has suffered far too long. You can give her a future of freedom and joy. You can replace her loneliness with companionship, and give her rivers to swim in and tall grass to graze in. We hope to be able to rescue her by the end of this month, but we can’t proceed without your support. In India, “Arya” means “noble.” She is deserving of our compassion and immediate action. Can you help save Arya TODAY?

Our rescue team is finalizing preparations to get her, but we can’t proceed without your support for her costly rescue, transportation, medical evaluation and rehabilitation.  Blind Arya has suffered far too long.

You can give her a future of freedom and joy. You can replace her loneliness with companionship, and give her rivers to swim in and tall grass to graze in. She is deserving of our compassion and immediate action. Can you please help us get these matching funds so we can secure Arya’s safety?

A Tale of Two Shirleys

Two elephants named Shirley currently living in the U.S. were both captured from the wild in Asia in the 1940s and have both endured decades of pain and exploitation in circuses. The only major difference between them is that one Shirley has found happiness and is now living in a sanctuary in the company of other elephants, while the other Shirley sadly lives all alone at an amusement park.

One Shirley arrived at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee in 1999. Her life leading up to this point was traumatic. After being captured from the wild in 1948 at only five years of age, she was purchased by a circus owner. After nearly 30 years of forced performances, a zoo in Louisiana agreed to take her in, but this was before the social requirements of elephants were fully understood. Sadly, Shirley spent over two decades in social isolation, not seeing another elephant at all during those long years. After the zoo decided it couldn’t provide the proper social life she deserved, Shirley was sent to The Elephant Sanctuary, where she reunited with Jenny, another elephant she’d lived with in a circus 23 years earlier. Their touching reunion is captured in this film.

The other Shirley is the only elephant at the Wild Adventures Theme Park in Georgia, a facility featured on our 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants list in 2018. Born in 1944 in Sri Lanka, she was captured as a baby and brought to the U.S. in 1946.. For the next 46 years of her life, Shirley was passed from circus to circus — nearly ten of them — including the infamous Ringling Brothers Circus. Shirley eventually ended up at Wild Adventures a quarter of a century ago, and has been there ever since. Shirley’s last elephant companion died in 2011, leaving her to endure solitary confinement going on nine years now. 

Keeping elephants alone in barren enclosures is a cruelty beyond comprehension. The Shirley who is stuck at Wild Adventures can’t use human words to give voice to her incredible sadness and loneliness. But the video of the other Shirley’s reunion with her old friend at The Elephant Sanctuary speaks far louder than words. Both Shirleys deserve lives of privacy, relative freedom, and company — all elephants do. It’s time for Wild Adventures to recognize this and for its management to do the right thing by sending Shirley to an accredited sanctuary.

To learn more about how zoos are harming elephants, and what we’re doing to help, check out the latest news and alerts about elephants.

From ArgoFilm's "The Urban Elephant" comes the touching story of Shirley and her keeper, Solomon James. Trapped in a man-made world, Shirley's life at the Louisiana Purchase Zoo was a lonely one, bereft of the company of other elephants. Follow Shirley and Solomon through a life of captivity to release in the Tennessee Elephant Sanctuary. This two-time Emmy Award winning film was produced for PBS's Nature Series. Join our journey by subscribing to our channel! Our Emmy Award winning films seek to lend a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves.

Natural Bridge Zoo Owner Karl Mogensen and Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Executive Director Ryan Brown

Asha the elephant hasn’t seen another elephant in decades, living in solitary confinement at the Natural Bridge Zoo (NBZ) since she turned one year old.

Most summers, Asha is forced to give rides to visitors. And in winter, she spends her days alone in a cold, damp barn, according to animal welfare organizations.

Asha is only one of many animals abused for profit at the NBZ — animals suffered untreated injuries from hair loss to lameness, zoo workers cruelly jabbed a caged monkey with a pointed stick, animal enclosures have been covered in feces and grime, and rodents infested the property, according to the Roanoke Times.

An investigation by the Humane Society of the United States found that the zoo failed to properly care for its animals, clean its enclosures, or provide animals with clean drinking water. Newborn tiger cubs were immediately taken from their mothers, so visitors could take selfies with them.

Recent legislation passed in Virginia bans the public from interacting with captive wild animals like lions, tigers, and bears. But elephants, who were supposed to be included in this law, are not protected after the owners of Natural Bridge Zoo convinced government officials to remove them from the list, reported The Virginian-Pilot.

All animals deserve proper care, and Asha deserves to live out her days in peace, without people on her back.

Sign this petition urging Natural Bridge Zoo Owner Karl Mogensen to send Asha and the other neglected animals to an accredited sanctuary, and for Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Executive Director Ryan Brown to suspend the zoo’s license if changes aren’t made.

Mystery elephant deaths caused by cyanobacteria

Toxins made by microscopic algae in water caused the previously unexplained deaths of hundreds of elephants in Botswana, wildlife officials say.

Botswana is home to a third of Africa's declining elephant population.

The alarm was raised when elephant carcasses were spotted in the country's Okavango Delta between May and June.

Officials say a total of 330 elephants are now known to have died from ingesting cyanobacteria. Poaching has been ruled out as a cause of death.

  • Africa Live: Updates on this and other stories

  • Why elephants are seeking refuge in Botswana

Cyanobacteria are toxic bacteria which can occur naturally in standing water and sometimes grow into large blooms known as blue-green algae.

Scientists warn that climate change may be making these incidents - known as toxic blooms - more likely, because they favour warm water.

Warning: Some people may find an image below upsetting

The findings follow months of tests in specialist laboratories in South Africa, Canada, Zimbabwe and the US.

Many of the dead elephants were found near watering holes, but until now the wildlife authorities had doubted that the bacteria were to blame because the blooms appear on the edges of ponds and elephants tend to drink from the middle.

"Our latest tests have detected cyanobacterial neurotoxins to be the cause of deaths. These are bacteria found in water," the Department of Wildlife and National Parks' Principal Veterinary Officer Mmadi Reuben told a press conference on Monday.

The deaths "stopped towards the end of June 2020, coinciding with the drying of [water] pans", AFP quotes him as saying.

  • The war on elephants

  • The country that brought its elephants back from the brink

Reports in June noted that tusks had not been removed, meaning poaching was not seen as a likely explanation.

Anthrax poisoning has also been ruled out, according to senior wildlife department official Cyril Taolo.

But questions still remain about the deaths, Mr Reuben told reporters.

"We have many questions still to be answered such as why the elephants only and why that area only. We have a number of hypotheses we are investigating."

Hundreds of carcasses were spotted with the help of aerial surveys earlier this year.

Dr Niall McCann, of the UK-based charity National Park Rescue, previously told the BBC that local conservationists first alerted the government in early May, after they undertook a flight over the delta.

"They spotted 169 in a three-hour flight," he said. "To be able to see and count that many in a three-hour flight was extraordinary."

Twenty-five elephants recently died in a group in neighbouring Zimbabwe. Test samples have been sent to the UK for analysis.

Elephants suffer in captivity.

They can be abused by trainers, and are forced to live in constrained conditions which causes stress, boredom, and the frustration of elephants' desires. No elephant deserves to be put on display and held in captivity for any reason. Please do not support elephant captivity by patronizing zoos or traveling circuses.

"Corporations Are People, My Friends."

Our companies are known for creating products that enhance people's lives. Through Sunset Corporation of America and its companies, we’re equally dedicated to improving lives.  Our commitment extends to helping local communities, fostering better educational systems, supporting the arts and culture, helping disadvantaged youth, protecting and improving the environment, animal welfare, wildlife issues and encouraging employee volunteerism.

The Sustainable Action Network (SAN), A Don Lichterman non-profit organization dedicated to building a global community raising awareness of corruption, injustice and the need for action across a full range of issues impacting people and animal/wildlife welfare around the world, such as conservation, climate change, campaign law, lobbying, government action and rescue work. SAN’s vision is to create safer world, free from political, environmental, and social oppression, where all the inhabitants of Earth can live in harmony within their own natural environments. Our commitment extends to helping local communities, fostering better educational systems, supporting the arts and culture, helping disadvantaged youth, protecting and improving the environment, animal welfare, wildlife issues and encouraging employee volunteerism.