Prepare to sigh, Green Monsters. It’s no secret that we love adorable pictures and videos of baby elephants here at One Green Planet, but a photograph uploaded by Imgur user KotteTheHalfling has left us feeling more than a little sad. The picture, which was taken in Kolmården Wildlife Park outside Stockholm, Sweden, shows a young Asian elephant apparently “enjoying” his time in the snow.
However, the fact is that Asian elephants are ill-equipped for life in a cold climate.
Unfortunately, captive elephants are deprived of the familial bonds that are so integral to their existence in the wild. Wild elephants live in matriarchal herds, led by the eldest and most experienced female of the group. The herd – which can number around 100 individuals – generally consists of the matriarch, her adult daughters, and their offspring. The matriarch’s eldest daughter will usually take over this role once her mother dies. Adult males tend to live in separate “bachelor” groups. Given their strong bonds and relationships, elephants are extremely intelligent, sensitive and emotional creatures, who have often been witnessed mourning the death of a beloved friend or family member.
Wild elephants also roam up to 50 miles a day, which helps keep their weight down, strengthens their bones and joints, and promotes healthy blood flow. Elephants held in zoos, circuses, or other captive facilities have repeatedly been witnessed carrying out abnormal, repetitive actions such as swaying from side to side, head-wobbling, and even self-mutilation. These behaviors are known as stereotypic behaviors. They are seldom, if ever, observed in wild animals, and are believed to be outward manifestations of a captive animal’s emotional and mental distress.
The baby elephant in this photograph – who is naturally adapted to life in a hot Asian climate – has been forced to live in an environment that does not truly meet his needs. This is something that cannot help but strike sadness into an animal lover’s heart … no matter how adorable he might look with snow on his nose, or how well-intentioned his carers might be. To learn more about the lives of elephants in captivity, check out some of the articles below:
- 3 Things Captive Elephants Never Experience
- Why Elephants Don’t Belong in Zoos
- Why Life in a Zoo is No Life for an Elephant
Image source: KotteTheHalfling/Imgur