I don’t enjoy seeing elephants in small enclosures. I’m thankful that the majority of zoos across the world are no longer breeding elephants. The ones that remain in zoos, are hopefully the last. They belong in the wild, or in large landscapes of protected land. They belong with their kin.
When I do come across one of the remaining generation of elephants in zoos I feel a certain bitter sweetness. I feel blessed to see one. I feel in awe of their grace, strength and dexterity. I watch them, without wanting to stare, through downcast eyes and with a tinge of sadness.
The elephant in this photograph is one of two at Santa Barbara Zoo in California. I found myself watching with quiet reverence. My children, running around beside me, weren’t in the mood for listening to my speech of awe and wonder. I stood, motionless, apart from moving to take a photograph. The elephant stopped to look at me when the shutter of my camera blinked to capture the image I sought. I felt guilty for intruding on the moment, trespassing on the little space that was the elephant’s home. If I could have spoken ‘elephant’ I would have asked permission before taking the photograph. Instead I bowed my head in respect, hoping the elephant could read my thoughts.
Nature is wonderful, but I’d rather capture it in a natural setting. I hope these beautiful, intelligent animals of grace and strength can live a more peaceful life in the future, free to roam without unnatural threats from certain people who do them harm.
I am a great supporter in WWF and TRAFFIC and the work they do in the war against wildlife crime.