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.
Holocaust Survivors Living in Jerusalem 40-50 Years Later,” Journal of Traumatic Stress 17 (2004): 403. 2. List compiled from public records by In Defense of Animals, courtesy Catherine Doyle. 3. Michael E. McCullough, “Forgiveness: Who Does It and How Do They Do It?” Current Directions in Psychological Science 1 0 (2001): 194-97. 4. Deogratias Bagilishya, “Mourning and Recovery from Trauma: In Rwanda, Tears Flow Within,” Transcultural Psychiatry 37 (2000): 337-53. 5. Nancy Scheper-Hughes,
changes in natural infant-rearing patterns affected both mother and child. Eschewing the euphemisms typical of much contemporary dialogue, Harlow frankly described his work and his aims: “The only thing I care about is whether a monkey will turn out a property I can publish. I don’t have any love for them. I never have. I don’t really like animals. I despise cats. I hate dogs.”34 He designed a “rape rack” to force monkeys to mate, a “well of despair” in which infant monkeys were kept isolated in
allomothers are virtually absent. Many infants are reared by inexperienced, highly stressed single mothers without the detailed knowledge of local plant ecology, leadership, and support that a matriarch and allomothers provide. According to the studies in Zambia by Mark and Delia Owens, mothers are younger than in the past: 48 percent of births were to females less than fourteen years old, compared with a normative mean age at first birth of sixteen years. Thirty-six percent of groups have no
him. The isolation from other elephants or reduced level of interactions with conspecifics heightens the intensity of the bond. For Flora, Balding probably became the savior who “rescued” her every spring from the winter camp and took her home. Cultivation of the keeper-elephant bond is considered vital for successful management, and many elephant keepers and trainers speak of their love for their charges; the lengths that people like David Balding go to better captive life provide testimony of
then when I came to the Animal Park I got mean again, and mean to the elephants. It happened sudden-like when one day Peach kicked me with her back left leg and threw me 50 feet in the air, blew out my shoulder. The other elephant guys told me to beat her. And I did, not as bad as the others, but it was scary because I found all this anger again. I didn’t know there was all this I could still draw from.13 Today he reads the works of the Dalai Lama, speaks out about violence against elephants,