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On World Elephant Day 2022, we introduced GG's newest, and probably youngest, member of the GG Family! Miss Zoe is only 9 years old and is GG's very FIRST KID AMBASSADOR! Children are the future - the Earth's future and all that live here. Miss Zoe has chosen to be a VOICE, rather than an echo.
"I first found out about the elephants because Mummy was interested. She wanted to change the ways owners used and treated their elephants.
After watching Noi Nah on Love and Bananas, I wanted to support the elephants because they are endangered and very special. I learnt that all elephants in captivity have been taken from their families and are abused so people can ride them. They are then abused with the bull hook, hurting their skin, even when they have done nothing wrong.
Elephants need to be with other elephants, but not chained together! The babies need to stay with their mum and nanny and their family to roam around and just be elephants.
I love gentle giants because they are trying to change people’s minds about how elephants should live and be treated. IT is important to spread the word to people that we need to be kinder and not support riding camps and other entertainment that uses elephants.
This also says to the owners, we want change for their elephants.
To live in a family
To roam around
To play in the mud
To not be chained
To not feel the bull hook
To not be abused
To just be elephants
And because………… Love wins!
I am so excited to be a gentle giants kid ambassador. I plan to raise both money and awareness so that GG can change the lives of so many more elephants and owners and mahouts know that the world wants their elephants to be treated better."
~ Zoe, 8-12-22 ~
Jason Kennedy is a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and recent graduate of the Master of Business for Veterans Program at the University of Southern California. Jason was born and raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in a very rural community near Waynesboro, Virginia. He enjoyed growing up in the hay fields, orchards, and mountains where he gained a true respect for nature and the beauty of Appalachia. Jason enlisted in the Marines in 1991 and after serving over 20 years in the military, transitioned into public service in 2013. He is currently employed by the City of Carlsbad, California. In his current role as the city’s Safety Training Center Manager, Jason is actively involved in providing training support to more thirty public safety agencies across the state. Jason has a passion for wildlife conservation, beekeeping, animal rescue, and environmental sustainability. He currently resides in San Diego with his wife Nuey and his recently adopted 12-year-old canine Theodore.
Why I Joined the GG Family
"I asked to be part of the Gentle Giants Family because I want to help bring awareness to the plight of the Asian Elephant. I knew Diana and Colby were the best advocates to align with as they have such a powerful voice to bring aid to Asian Elephants in Thailand. Since my wife is from Thailand this kind of work is exactly what I was looking for to fill a void in my own life. That void was created in 2006 when I saw my first captive elephants chained under a mahout hut on Ko Chang, Thailand. Since that day, I have felt guilt and sadness, wondering if those five elephants and the young baby elephant were separated or still giving rides day in and day out for tourists. I cringe at the thought of their suffering asking myself if there ever was a chance they earned their freedom from a life of misery. It is this human guilt that continues to tug at me.
Seeing elephants chained up or begging in the streets in Thailand only caused more guilt. This is what has driven me to the point where I must do something more for a species that has suffered at the hands of humans for centuries. The Asian Elephant populations are dwindling, their habitats are shrinking, and urbanization and global climate changes are increasing stress on this species. We only get one chance to make things right on this planet and saving a keystone species is a step in the right direction. Moreso that direction is to give me some closure from what I saw in 2006.
Asian Elephants have a true sense of empathy for one another. They are highly intelligent mammals centered on their family, their herd. For centuries they have been treated poorly, used as war machines, family units separated, forced into slavery, and used as property to satisfy greed. They have been poached for their ivory tusks, beaten into submission to perform tricks for tourists in crowded venues, all the while worshipped in temples and history books. I ask myself why? What is the purpose of abusing such a magnificent creature?
The Asian Elephant is a royal species, a keystone species with some living well into their 70’s. I ask myself why should they be placed into chains, beaten, and forced to submit to humans? Why should they be forced into a zoo to live decades alone in a concrete pit with little space to forage or travel with their herd? Would we want to be treated like this? These questions cross my mind daily and have given me a purpose, a mission. How can I make effective change in this world? The answer is simple. I want to spread awareness in hopes that it will ease the suffering of elephants, bring peace to a species that has suffered way too long. Elephants should always be allowed to flourish in their majestic shadows as a keystone species and as the Earth’s Gentle Giants. It is time for us to change. It is time for me to right the guilt and ensure elephants like the five I met in 2006 are free of chains and can live in their habitat in peace."
~ Jason, 9-25-22 ~
GG Family, please welcome our new Scholar Ambassador Richard Chiger. Not only is Richard an enlightened educator with many years experience, but he is exceedingly passionate, industrious and dedicated to "awakening sleeping hearts". Richard developed and delivers a lecture program called "The Plight of the Elephant".
GG is excited to have Richard join our journey in opening people's eyes and hearts to create lasting change for captive elephants.
"Elephants are the greatest life form on earth. That is my mantra, and it has always been. I have read everything I could get my hands on that was about elephants all my life. There was something about them that touched my soul.
I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, where my father took me to the Prospect Park Zoo, every Sunday, to see the elephants. It was all I wanted to do. When I got a little older, I spent every weekend at the Bronx Zoo as well. I got to know all their elephants and Lilly, at the Prospect Park Zoo became my buddy. They read your heart, they know you. They are incredible. I wrote an independent master's degree program on The Captive Behavioral Ecology of Asian Elephants which brought me to the Portland Zoo, the major elephant breeding zoo in the United States. What I learned there was the indefensible cruelty of tearing baby elephants from their mothers. As I grew up and studied elephants I was more and more horrified at learning the unconscionable horrors of the torturous way they are kept in captivity and the fact that killing them for their ivory is driving them to extinction. I had a best friend relationship with an elephant named Fritha who was kept at a place near where I live in upstate New York. She was a victim of the napalming of herds of elephants that was done by the US troops during the war in Vietnam, where she was born.
My wife, Jackie, and I took trips to India and Thailand to see elephants. Thailand has sanctuaries that help previously abused elephants, but they have to be bought to get them away from their abusers, otherwise they just go to another tormentor. We stayed and helped out at BLES, where the elephants had a new life of kindness and peace. It is the same at the ENP and some other sanctuaries. India has people fighting for the rights of elephants to stop their vicious treatment in temples, parades and other work conditions. People have to be taught. Their eyes must be opened to the fact that elephants do not march, perform, paint, work or give rides because they want to be nice. They do it because they are afraid of being beaten half to death. Their spirit is broken and it makes them afraid to fight back. Education of people is a great tool to make them stop spending money in these countries until the whole paradigm of keeping elephants is changed. People must realize and care that every ivory trinket that is bought represents a dead elephant. I do a lecture program called "The Plight of the Elephant:" to open people's eyes. They very often leave my program with a totally changed attitude. They really do not know. We, all of us who know and care, have to spread this word. I am proud to have been asked to be part of Gentle Giants. They know what is going on and are working to make it stop."
~ Richard, 12-07-22 ~