You may not know this, but elephants give a mean hug! Although these creatures are best known for their surprisingly graceful presence and gentle spirit, they are also incredibly empathetic and affectionate, known to form strong bonds with their peers and loved ones. These creatures have so many facets to their personality, it’s no wonder humans are so fascinated with their existence. Unfortunately, it is our very fascination with these gentle giants that has lead to their exploitation and slow demise as a species. We confine animals to zoos, we make them perform asinine tricks in the circus, and we force them to carry humans around on their backs until they literally are too exhausted to stand – and we call it “tourism.”

And of course, we cannot speak of the plight facing elephants without mentioning poachers. It is estimated that one African elephant is killed for their ivory tusks every fifteen minutes. Some conservationists predict that if nothing is done to slow this rate of poaching, the African elephant will be extinct from the wild by 2025.

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Thankfully, not all hope is lost. There are several organizations in existence to combat this problem and create a brighter future for elephants. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), for one, is one of the most successful orphan-elephant and rehabilitation programs in the world. At the rehab center, ellies who have lost their parents due to poaching are taken in and receive all of the love and support they would have gotten from their parents but never got the chance to. The caretakers and elephants become so close sometimes it’s hard to remember who has adopted who!

These ellies sure love their caretaker. As reported by DSWT, they are often seen giving their caretakers big ele-hugs. It’s almost like they’re saying, “This one! I choose this one!” 

Elephants

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Elephants are awe-inspiring animals, and to an extent, it’s understandable that people want to learn more about these amazing creatures. However, we need to do better than forcing them into captivity. In the past, zoos may have been the only way we could get close to these creatures, but thanks to advancements in technology, that is no longer the case. There are wildlife TV specials, conservation centers, and stunning photographs you can see online. At the same time, we must look past our own needs and remember that if nothing is done to help elephants, there won’t be any to even see! To make sure this sad reality never reaches fruition we all have to band together to stop poaching, the ivory trade, and all of the other ways elephants are exploited. It’s up to all of us. To learn more about how you can help elephants, click here.

Image source: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust/Facebook