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The Dark Side Of Elephant Artists
For centuries we have recognized the intelligence of elephants. Trained elephants built many ancient civilizations. They’ve been train in everything from moving logs in developing countries to balance on balls in the circus. Many overlook the dark side of elephant artists due to our fascination with the highly intelligent creatures.
I recently came across a video of some elephants that had been taught to paint at a park in Thailand. It was fully formed artistic expression, not just splatters of obscurity. I was in complete awe at the display of intelligence from these giants.
Wanting to know more, I started to research and unfortunately what I found was not as amazing as I had first thought.
A Mahout begins to train the young elephants at two years old. The Mahout teach the elephants numerous commands, how to perform skills, and of course how to paint. It takes about 2 months for the calve to learn to dip the brush into the paint. The camps would like you to believe that the elephants like doing this and are having a great time, yet you never see them painting while roaming the African savannah or in the jungles of Asia.
A conservation organization by the name of Born Free has done a lot more research on the subject and claim that “Elephants endure months of physical abuse to learn how to hold a paint brush, draw a straight line and paint flowers and leaves on trees.”
Similar to the elephant trekking industry, the elephants have to go through a process known as Phajaan, which is designed to break the elephants spirit and force them to accept human control. The elephants are shackled, starved and beaten. The elephant learns to fear the Mahout’s hook. Many elephants have not survived this process.
An elephants trunk is extremely sensitive and full of nerve endings.
The Mahout will sometimes leave the giant hook out of the line of site of the audience during shows. Furthermore the Mahout use a nail in their hand to press into the ear of the elephant if not performing correctly.
They are extremely intelligent and to be near one of these tortured souls would be tempting to anyone. When purchasing a ticket to the show or a canvas, as a result you’re funding the ability to endanger the natural lives of elephants and slowly killing them off. With less than 30,000 Asian Elephants left on the planet, we should be cherishing each and every one of them.
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