When I was a kid, elephants were not my favourite animal. I was into horses, and fluffier creatures like dogs and cats.
So I was surprised at how deeply moved I was by a NY Times article, a year and a half ago, about how habitat loss and human depredation is destroying elephant culture.
Then yesterday at work, someone posted the video clip below, asking if it was "for real". And again, I was moved almost to tears.
Now, there are some comments on various sites that this clip is posted on that claim that the animals are abused to get them to do this. I don't doubt that now that some people have realized there is money to be made from this, there are unscrupulous people who will try to gain financial advantage in any way possible.
But this outfit seems dedicated to elephant conservation and bettering the lot of domesticated elephants, and self-funds in part from these paintings.
While elephants have been known to draw in the dirt with sticks, I'm under no illusions that what is shown in the clip takes quite a bit of training and is not necessarily the result of pure creative process. But kids learn to draw by being trained, and following patterns, too. If training an animal to do something like this is what it takes to convince people that humans are not the be-all and end-all on this planet, and that we need to take more care of and honour the creatures we share it with, then I'm a fan as long as the animal is being well-treated.
As my husband put it when I showed this clip to him: "This makes me feel less alone."