Bhogeshwara, Asia’s ‘Longest-Tusked’ Elephant Dies Of Natural Causes.

RIP BHOGESHWARA

The Elephant was a major attraction for tourists at the Kabini backwaters. The 60-year-old Elephant was found dead in the Gundre range of Karnataka’s Bandipur Tiger Reserve.

The Elephant was named Bhogeshwar by the forest department officers and tribals after he was often sighted near Bhogeshwar camp, where a temple and an anti-poaching camp are located. “Many tourists would be delighted and pleased on catching a glimpse of him, even if they were not able to sight a Tiger in Kabini. The tusker has also featured in several wildlife documentaries and films made by the department and some private organizations,” said a forest department official.

Bhogeshwara, reportedly the Elephant with the longest tusks in Asia, died of natural causes at the age of 60, according to officials. The wild Elephant, also known as Mr Kabini, was found dead in the Gundre range of Karnataka’s Bandipur Tiger Reserve on Saturday. The officials believe that he died three or four days ago.

According to forest department officials, Bhogeshwar’s tusks were 2.54 meters and 2.34 meters long.

Known for his gentle temperament, the Elephant frequented the Kabini backwaters for the last three decades. Wildlife enthusiasts who observed Bhogeshwara say that his calmness and long tusks used to attract the tourists at Kabini.

The director of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Ramesh Kumar, said: “The field staff found the carcass. We did not find any injury marks and the tusks were intact. Usually as they age, Elephants cannot eat properly due to the wearing of their teeth. The tusks were removed and carcass was left for the natural decomposition and scavengers to feed on,” he said.

FIELD STAFF WITH THE BODY OF BHOGESHWARA

The forest department in April came out with a notification that the carcass of the wild animals will not be incinerated or buried since they are an important source of energy and nutrients for predators and scavengers. The new rule, however, does not apply to tigers.

Meanwhile, tributes poured on social media for Bhogeshwara .

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The Mission of Protect All Wildlife is to prevent cruelty and promote the welfare of ALL animals.

We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals.

It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

Protect All Wildlife are involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to Protect All Wildlife supports ALL of our worthy programmes and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Your donations make our work possible.

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Please Help End Animal Abuse And Cruelty.

Animal Rights Activist Ricky Gervais

 “Animals are not here for us to do as we please with. We are not their superiors. We are their equals. We are their family. Be kind to them.” ~ Ricky Gervais.

Cruelty to animals, also called animal abuseanimal neglect or animal cruelty, is the infliction by omission (neglect) or by commission by humans of suffering or harm upon any animal. More narrowly, it can be the causing of harm or suffering for specific achievement, such as killing animals for entertainment; cruelty to animals sometimes encompasses inflicting harm or suffering as an end in itself, defined as zoosadism.

Animal cruelty can be broken down into two main categories: active and passive. Passive cruelty is typified by cases of neglect, in which the cruelty is a lack of action rather than the action itself. Oftentimes passive animal cruelty is accidental, born of ignorance. In many cases of neglect in which an investigator believes that the cruelty occurred out of ignorance, the investigator may attempt to educate the pet owner, then revisit the situation. In more severe cases, exigent circumstances may require that the animal be removed for veterinary care.

Whether it is Elephants killed for their tusks or beaten so they comply in the Asian tourism ‘industry’, Rhino slaughtered for their horns for ‘traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), animals skinned alive for the fur trade etc, animal activists need to stand together to fight for their rights.

At many elephant ‘sanctuaries’ across Thailand and in other countries, the elephants are taught to fear humans. This is so that they will act with compliancy. From babies they are tied up, starved and beaten in what is known as a ‘crush’. This is the act of breaking a young elephant’s spirit. And it’s mostly true what they say: an elephant never forgets. This means that, with their long memories, elephants remember this period of abuse for the rest of their lives. It ensures that the elephants will do what the trainers (also known as mahouts) say, and are more easily trained.

They are also commonly beaten with hooks and sticks that have nails poking out of them – this is when they are seen to be misbehaving or not following orders, or being too slow to respond. The mahouts want the animals to be constantly putting on a performance for those tourists who are there for elephant riding in Thailand.

UNDERCOVER FOOTAGE SHOWS CRUEL TRAINING USED ON BABY ELEPHANTS TO BOOST THAILAND TOURISM

As poaching and habitat loss ravage rhinoceros and elephant populations, protections for these species are vitally important. Today, all five rhino species and both elephant species are threatened with extinction. Efforts are underway across the globe to save these iconic animals.

Elephants and rhinos often experience painful deaths when poached. Rhinos may have their horns cut off while they are still alive and contrary to belief, elephants do not lose their tusks; they are hacked out by poachers.

More than a thousand rhinos and tens of thousands of elephants are killed each year to feed demand for ivory and rhino horn. The international trade in elephants, rhinos, and other species is the second-largest threat to wildlife after habitat loss. If the market continues to drive poaching, both rhinos and elephants could vanish from the wild as early as 2034.

HORRIFIC IMAGES OF ELEPHANTS POACHED FOR THEIR TUSKS AND A RHINO FOR ITS HORN

Every year, hundreds of badgers meet a horrific death in the name of ‘sport’ in the UK at the hands of terriermen. Many of those who have been caught digging into badger setts have used the excuse that they were after foxes – and many have escaped prosecution by so doing.

The Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, commonly referred to as the Yulin Dog Meat Festival is an annual event starting on 20th of June where an estimated 10,000 – 15,000 dogs and cats are slaughtered for their meat.

The ‘festival’ began in 2010 to celebrate summer solstice. Advocates and restaurant owners say that eating dog is traditional in the summertime. Around 10-20 million dogs are killed for their meat each year in China. However, critics argue there is no cultural value in the festival and it was mainly devised as a way of making money.

While slaughtering dogs is common in China, the festival is seen as representative of the cruelty and lack of hygiene associated with the largely unregulated industry. In addition, many of the animals killed are stolen pets some of which have been seen still wearing their collars.

Some are sent to the festival in small cages without food or water on trucks that can travel hundreds of miles.

Slaughtering takes place in front of the live animals, usually with a club or with a blow-torch to induce the pain and fear that some restaurant owners claim makes their adrenaline-rich meat tastier.

“Psychologically and mentally, they have already died many times,” said Peter Li, a China policy specialist with the Humane Society International.

DOGS ARE TORTURED TO DEATH IN THE BELIEF THAT IT MAKES THE MEAT TASTIER

Trophy hunters pay large sums of money, often tens of thousands of dollars, to travel around the world to kill wild animals. Who can forget the killing of Cecil the Lion in 2015 in Zimbabwe? He was hunted over many hours with a bow and arrow, before being skinned and beheaded by Dentist Walter Palmer.

More often than not animals in their prime and in breeding age are targeted by trophy hunting because of their specific characteristics; their black mane, their long tusks, the size of their antlers, in fact Safari Club International offers prizes for the largest animals killed. Where older males are targeted this can have extreme negative consequences for the herd or pride; older males offer protection to groups and keep juvenile males in line, when they are killed less experienced animals move in, increasing the risk of human wildlife conflict and killing the cubs of the older male. When the elephants with the largest tusks are killed, we have seen the size of elephant tusks in the population decrease over time, making it harder to find food and defend themselves.

CECIL THE LION WAS SHOT BY DENTIST WALTER PALMER IN JULY 2015 AND CAUSED INTERNATIONAL OUTRAGE

More than 10,000 are caught, tortured and killed in the UK each year by huntsmen with terriers – with almost a third of these illegal acts being carried out in Wales. Alarmingly, this figure is rising constantly. Terry Spamer, a former RSPCA inspector, believes that there are around 2,000 people involved in badger baiting currently. However, only around three people are caught and convicted of badger baiting each year, while the majority carry on breaking the law.

Traditional fox hunting was banned in England and Wales under the Hunting Act 2004. In spite of existing legislation, there has been 500 successful prosecutions under the Act. However, many incidents of illegal hunting have gone unpunished.

FOX HUNTING AND BADGER BAITING IS ILLEGAL IN THE UK BUT CARRIES ON WITH WITH APPARENT IMPUNITY

Dogfighting is an inhumane ‘bloodsport’ where dogs who have been bred, conditioned and trained to fight are placed in a pit to fight each other for spectator ‘entertainment’ and profit. Fights average one to two hours, ending when one of the dogs cannot continue.

Dog fights usually take part in quiet, private locations, such as in an industrial unit or farm building. Participants will spend months training their dogs in preparation, much like boxing, the fighters will have to hit a target weight to take part. Organisers will create a fighting ‘pit’ for the dogs to fight within.

Dogs who have been used in fighting often have serious injuries to their head, ears, front legs and chest that are caused as they go head-to-head in a pit. They will also have injuries of different ages, some old scars and some fresh wounds.

IT IS BELIEVED OVER 16000 DOGS DIE EACH YEAR IN ORGANIZED DOG FIGHTS

Each year, thousands of bulls are barbarically slaughtered in bullrings around the world. Over the centuries, bullfighters have found countless ways to rig the “fight” in their favor. Bulls are often weakened with drugs or by having sandbags dropped on their backs. Their horns have been shaved to keep them off balance, or petroleum jelly has been rubbed into their eyes to impair their vision.

Every year, approximately 250,000 bulls are killed in bullfights. Bullfighting is already banned by law in many countries including Argentina, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Italy and the United Kingdom. Although legal in Spain, some Spanish cities, such as Calonge, Tossa de Mar, Vilamacolum and La Vajol, have outlawed the practice of bullfighting. There are only a few countries throughout the world where this practice still takes place (Spain, France, Portugal, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador). ~ HSI.

BULLS ARE TORTURED IN THE NAME OF CULTURE AND TRADITION

Each year from approximately September 1 to March 1, a large-scale hunt of dolphins takes place in the small village of Taiji, Japan, as featured in the 2010 Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove. During this six month season, dolphin hunters utilize drive hunt techniques to herd large numbers of dolphins to shore, resulting in their capture or death.

The captured dolphins may be selected for live trade to aquariums and marine parks for display, while others are slaughtered for their meat. The price for live captures is many times higher than those killed.

THE ANNUAL TAIJI DOLPHIN SLAUGHTER

What you can do to help end animal abuse

We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals.

It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, taking action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

The Mission of Protect All Wildlife is to prevent cruelty, promote the welfare of ALL animals EVERYWHERE, and help END animal abuse.

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A Viral Video Of An Elephant Doing A Headstand Leaves The Internet Angry. Here’s Why!

A video of an Elephant doing a headstand has gone viral online and triggered a discussion about animal cruelty.

The video shows Elephant standing on its head, like he’s doing a headstand.

A video circulating on social media shows an Elephant in a circus-like pose while taking a bath. But the viral video has angered social media users.

The video has been shared by Morissa Schwartz on Twitter with the caption, “I didn’t know Elephants could do this.” It has received over 380k views and has had more than 200 comments mostly expressing the belief that cruel training has been used to train the Elephant to ‘perform’.

Meanwhile, in the video, it could be heard crowd of spectators gasping and cheering at the view. After watching this act by the Elephant, angry viewers took to the comment section to express their outrage. Many of them even claimed that the headstand was not real and the big creature was trained for doing so. People also said that there are chances that the animal was unethically trained to do it to entertain the crowd. The video has spread outrage on the internet.

Here are a just a few of the comments it garnered:

It is very essential for us to understand that these animals go through a lot of fear and pain in making such moves. The humans train them and brutally torture these animals to make them do these poses.

ELEPHANTS ARE BEATEN INTO SUBMISSION FROM A VERY YOUNG AGE

But we, the citizens, can create a groundswell of changes and instil compassion in the hearts of cruel human beings while creating a safe world for Elephants. If you’re genuinely hurt and angered by the atrocities against Elephants, here are nine things you can do right now:

1. Scratch off Elephant rides from your bucket list.

2. Boycott festivals that exploit Elephants and perpetuate cruelty

3. Do not visit zoos, circuses, or any entertainment that involves Elephants or any animals for that matter.

4. Educate yourself and influence your immediate circle of family and friends, creating ripples of change. Gods in Shackles is a great educational aid that exposes the dark truth behind captivity.

6. Write letters and petitions to your elected officials.

7. Remember to vote – you have the power to vote them out.

8. Share this story and help create awareness.

9. Write a science-based review on TripAdvisor and other travel sites.

What you can do to help wildlife

The Mission of Protect All Wildlife is to prevent cruelty and promote the welfare of ALL animals EVERYWHERE.

Please support our work by donating ANY amount, large or small. It only takes a minute and your donations help make our work possible. Thank you for your support.

Be Aware Of The Dark Truth Behind Guruvayur Elephant ‘Sanctuary’ In India

A CHAINED ELEPHANT IN GURUVAYUR CAPTIVE ELEPHANT ‘SANCTUARY’

By Sangita Iyer, Author, Gods In Shackles. Founder, Voice For Asian Elephants Society

MADHAVAN, A POPULAR BULL ELEPHANT, TRIES TO BREAK THE CHAINS.

“Fifteen Hundred captives were cooped up in a shed built to accommodate probably 200 at the most. We were cold and hungry and there was not enough room for everyone to squat on the bare ground, let alone to lie down. One five-ounce piece of bread was our only food in four days.”

A holocaust survivor, Dr. Viktor Frankl, painstakingly chronicles this horrific scene at the Auschwitz extermination camp in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning“. He recalls the Nazis captured approximately 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, forced them to travel by train for several days and nights, then stuffed them into a tiny room, with nine prisoners sharing a bunker and two sheets.

A similar concentration camp for Elephants exists in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where 45 captives are crammed into 12 acres of land. They are tethered beneath the scorching sun at 45°C, languishing in their urine and excrement, and deprived of their basic primordial needs. Most of them were illegally captured wild Elephants from the north-eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, and Bihar, and sold to the Kerala Elephant owners during the annual “Sonpur Mela” festival that takes place every November.

BULL ELEPHANTS IN THEIR MUSTH ARE TETHERED NEXT TO EACH OTHER.

This is the world’s most notorious Elephant prison, called “Punnathur Kotta,” aka the “Guruvayur Captive Elephant Sanctuary.” It is adjacent to the UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Guruvayur Temple. Tourists from around the world travel here, many having been led to believe that the Elephants at this concentration camp are happy and well cared for. They are oblivious to the dark truth behind the shackled Elephants and their weaving motions.

Although many reviews on TripAdvisor from local people glorify this “sanctuary,” the most recent post in November 2021 affords a one-star rating by a U.K. visitor. Entitled “Nothing but a prison for distressed Elephants,” it paints the harsh realities that Elephants suffer.

“Elephants are constantly chained, many by front and back legs simultaneously. Many are chained so tightly they can hardly move, others constantly rock and sway due to stress. Terrible to witness in the 21st century.”

In the wild, Elephants wander across vast areas for hours on end, grazing on a wide variety of berries, barks, roots, leaves, fruits, grass, and even soil to obtain mineral supplements from the earth. They need to keep moving to balance their massive bodies. Socializing is a must for their sanity. Elephants also keep themselves busy, making tools and devising strategies when confronted by enemies.

A BULL ELEPHANT IN HIS PEAK MATING PERIOD IS THOUGHTFUL AND GENTLE

Females socialize, with a wise matriarch leading her family, and fiercely protecting the young. In contrast, bulls form bachelor groups and join a female herd only during their annual musth cycle – peak mating period. During this time, their testosterone and energy levels surge. They are overwhelmed by the urge to mate. The bulls secrete musth fluid from their temporal glands, emitting a potent smell to attract females. It triggers the instinct to fight off the bulls. They deplete their surging energies by mating, fighting, and covering extensive distances.

At the Guruvayur concentration camp, however, the bulls are denied food, water, and shelter, so their energies will be depleted. Worse still, many Elephants come into their musth cycle around the same time. The musth odour is even stronger as the bulls are tethered right next to each other. It’s hard to resist the urge to fight the neighbouring bulls. Frustrated, these prisoners pull their chains that cut into their flesh, causing bloodied and swollen ankles.

THIS BULL ELEPHANT STRUGGLES TO COPE WITH THE BLISTERING SUN
THIS BULL ELEPHANT STRUGGLES TO REACH THE FILTHY TANK WITH LITTLE WATER

Out of sheer desperation, many bulls have attacked their handlers, only for the torture to be intensified. One Kerala veterinarian alleges that the handlers toss rocks on the bulls’ genitals to inflict maximum pain in the most sensitive areas of their body and control them.

But the cruellest of all rituals awaits these bulls after their musth cycle. A group of 10 to 15 drunken men will beat the living daylight out of the bulls. This brutal practice is called “Katti Adikkal,” which means “tied and beaten.” It is driven by a misguided myth that Elephants may have forgotten their commands during the musth cycle.

It’s also common practice to control every movement with a long pole stuck behind the bull’s ear, enforcing the so-called “freeze” position. If the bull moves too much, the pole will fall, and he will be punished. The atrocities meted out against Kerala Elephants, including this prison, are exposed in Gods in Shackles.

FRUSTRATED, THIS BULL TOSSES A CLUMP OF MUD AT ME. PHOTO CREDIT: SANGITA IYER

With every single natural behaviour suppressed, Elephants are under chronic stress, displayed by swaying side to side, bobbing their head up and down, and even biting their trunk and trying to break the chains.

Dr. Jessica Bell Rizzolo, a trans-species psychologist and wildlife crime expert, explains in an interview with me that these symptoms are caused by years of abuse and lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Depravation of agency is among the critical factors that hinder brain development and exacerbate PTSD.

“So, if that Elephant is unable to make basic decisions about his or her life, who to mate with, when to have social interactions with another Elephant, how long to stay with the mother, that could really impact the right brain development.”

An Elephant brain is three times as large as the human brain, with a highly evolved cerebral cortex. Dr. Bob Jacobs and his team have released shocking scientific research detailing the devastating consequences of unnatural and depleted environments on Elephants’ brain structure and functions. Key points from “Putative neural consequences of captivity for Elephants and cetaceans” include:

1. The impoverished nature of the captive environment has detrimental consequences for the brain, including degeneration of nerve cells in the cerebral cortex, which is involved in higher cognitive functions.

2. An unnatural environment leads to chronically elevated levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, which has a wide-ranging negative impact on brain structures and functions, including inflammation of brain tissue and the death of nerve cells.

3. One effect of chronically elevated stress hormones is the intricate, normally well-balanced interaction of key regions of the brain – the prefrontal cortex (planning), the hippocampus (spatial learning), and the amygdala (emotional processing) – becomes dysregulated (i.e., unbalanced). In both human and non-human animals, such disruptions in the delicate communication among these regions are associated with mental disorders such as PTSD, hyper-aggression, increased vigilance, and/or depression.

4. The chronic stress that characterizes impoverished environments disturbs neurotransmitter (chemical) systems, resulting in poor communication among different brain structures and cellular networks. For instance, because of changes in the release of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex, aberrant environments decrease an animal’s ability to cope with the stress of captivity.

5. Impoverishment and the accompanying chronic stress can potentially suppress the immune system. For example, the endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) is prevalent among immunocompromised captive Asian Elephants.

In the wild, it is normal for Elephants to occasionally encounter predators such as humans and other carnivores, which triggers a brief increase in stress hormone levels. However, once the threat disappears, the hormones return to a normal level, allowing the body and brain functions to resume their natural state.

But in this concentration camp, Elephants are under chronic stress. Despite obeying the commands of the handlers, the Elephants are constantly whacked with vicious bullhooks and poked with long poles as a constant reminder that their masters are in control.

One video of a helpless Elephant being chained and beaten ruthlessly by a group of men, as hundreds of others simply watched this heinous brutality, went viral on social media. This bull had killed his handler, and apparently, the men were teaching him a lesson – never to mess with them.

The prisoners at the Auschwitz camp suffered a similar fate: “Beatings occurred on the slightest provocation, sometimes for no reason at all… We heard the lashings of the straps and screams of the tortured men. At such a moment it is not the physical pain which hurts the most, it is the mental agony caused by the injustice, the unreasonableness of it all… The most painful part of beatings is the insults which they imply.”

Is it even conceivable that the bull who was being beaten in front of hundreds of people felt the insults and shame? Many neuroscience and psychology studies on Elephants reveal that Elephants are highly intelligent and emotional animals. They display empathy not only towards their own kind but also other species.

It has also been demonstrated that Elephants have their own culture, and they observe rituals, for instance, a grieving ritual, when they encounter the skeletal remains of other Elephants. They pass social information through generations. They have strong social bonds. So, by capturing Elephants randomly and separating them from their herd, their culture becomes fragmented.

The Guruvayur concentration camp Elephants conceal layers upon layers of trauma… and with no escape from the ongoing brutality and unpredictability, they seem to have just given up on life. Dr. Rizzolo says, “The trauma is such that the sense of self is impaired. That Elephant doesn’t even have a sense of themself in relation to themselves and in relation to other Elephants in relation to their herd… “If that normative social structure is ruptured on a larger scale. You see results of that just as you see in human cultures that have experienced trauma after trauma.”

At the Auschwitz concentration camp, Dr. Frankl observed similar dysfunctional behaviours: “Apathy, the blunting of the emotions and the feeling that one could not care anymore, with the symptoms arising during the second stage of the prisoner’s psychological reactions, and which eventually made him insensitive to daily and hourly beatings.” (Pg. 23)

Knowing these psychological, emotional, and mental traumas caused by captivity, is it then moral or ethical to confine these sentient animals for human entertainment? The cultural and religious lobby groups will turn a blind eye and continue to justify their actions.

But we, the citizens, can create a groundswell of changes and instil compassion in the hearts of cruel human beings while creating a safe world for Elephants. If you’re genuinely hurt and angered by the atrocities against Elephants, here are nine things you can do right now:

1. Scratch off Elephant rides from your bucket list.

2. Boycott festivals that exploit Elephants and perpetuate cruelty.

3. Do not visit zoos, circuses, or any entertainment that involves Elephants or any animals for that matter.

4. Educate yourself and influence your immediate circle of family and friends, creating ripples of change. Gods in Shackles is a great educational aid that exposes the dark truth behind captivity.

5. Speak out and expose the cruelties. All of us have cell phones and have access to an abundance of social media platforms.

6. Write letters and petitions to your elected officials.

7. Remember to vote – you have the power to vote them out.

8. Share this story and help create awareness.

9. Write a science-based review on TripAdvisor and other travel sites.

Complacency and apathy have no place in an era confronting the sixth mass extinction. Asian Elephants are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. With only 40,000 of them left on the entire planet and 27,000 of them in India, we need to do everything in our power to protect them in their last bastion. Only collectively can we end the suffering of Elephants and foster compassion towards these majestic animals.

Please Sign The Petition : Stop Elephant Captivity in Kerala Temples

GODS IN SHACKLES WITH AUTHOR SANGITA IYER
AN EXCELLENT FOREWORD BY DR JANE GOODALL

What you can do to help wildlife

The Mission of Protect All Wildlife is to prevent cruelty and promote the welfare of ALL animals EVERYWHERE.

Please support our work by donating ANY amount, large or small. It only takes a minute. Thank you for your support.

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That’s My Girl With The Gorilla… But She’s Totally Safe, Says Father Who Released A 20-Year-Old Home Video To Show How ‘Gentle, Noble And Wonderful’ Gorillas Are

Many will be deeply moved by the sight of a toddler beating her chest with tiny fists while a 300lb Gorilla lounges alongside her, eating a kiwi fruit. They will laugh as the two toss straw over their heads and gasp when one of the world’s largest primates leans forward to give the little girl a tender peck on the cheek.

Others, however, will be horrified. More than once, the Gorilla gathers the girl in her arms, carrying her off as she would one of her young. The bond between the playmates is unmistakable despite the the grainy VHS footage being more than 20 years old.

Dressed in navy jumper and light blue trousers, 18-month-old Tansy Aspinall romps in the sunshine, one minute swaying on a rope swing, the next tumbling down the slide, tummy first, her not-so-little friend behind her. Not-so-little being the operative phrase. For Tansy’s playground is, in fact, an animal pen at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent and her chums are Western Lowland Gorillas.

Scroll down to see the video of Tansy Aspinall and the Gorilla for yourself…

Controversial parenting: A photo taken in 1990,before the video was filmed, that shows Tansy Aspinall in the arms of an adult gorilla at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent

Controversial parenting? A photo taken in 1990, before the video was filmed, shows Tansy Aspinall in the arms of an adult gorilla at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent

Her father, Damian, released the family film via The Mail on Sunday and made it available on YouTube. It is a controversial decision and Damian, was prepared for criticism but remains unrepentant.

‘This is a family video,’ he says. ‘Before I wouldn’t have released it but now, with the internet it is different. I don’t care if I get a bit of stick because I think the gorillas get a good deal out of it. There’s an upside for them that there wasn’t before. If we can show millions of people how gentle and noble and wonderful these animals are, then I think we’re doing the Gorillas a service. I’m happy to take the stick for that.’

Tansy, now 33, agrees. She says: ‘I obviously understand that people might find it quite shocking seeing a baby going in with the Gorillas because that’s how they have been brought up – to see Gorillas in that King Kong kind of way. But really gorillas are such wonderful, gentle animals and they’re so human-like. So I hope it’s a way of people understanding how gentle and kind Gorillas really are.’

She was too young to remember the video taken at Howletts, the Palladian mansion that her grandfather, the gambler John Aspinall, bought after a particularly good night at the tables.

Laughing or crying? Video clip of 18-month-old Tansy Aspinall playing alone with one of Dad's gorillas

Laughing or crying? Video clip of 18-month-old Tansy Aspinall playing alone with one of Dad’s Gorillas

No fear: The toddler was filmed 19 years ago by Damian and has been kept secret because of some fears that it might have provoked a backlash from childcare experts because of the risk

No fear: The toddler was filmed 19 years ago by Damian and has been kept secret because of some fears that it might have provoked a backlash from childcare experts because of the risk

Gorilla-hug: The young girl is smothered by the 300lb adult

GORILLA-HUG: TANSY IS SMOTHERED BY THE 300LB POWERFUL ADULT

Aspinall filled the house and grounds with animals, including Tigers, Wolves and Gorillas. He also brought the pets he had kept in his previous home in London’s Eaton Square including  a Leopard, a Himalayan Bear and a Capuchin Monkey. In time, the animals were moved outdoors and Howletts became a wildlife park.

On John’s death in 2000, Damian took control and set up the Aspinall Foundation, a conservation initiative to return captive-bred animals into the wild. His foundation has now bred more captive animals – and reintroduced them into the wild – than any other organisation in Europe. There have been 139 Gorilla births, 33 Black Rhinos and 20 African Elephants. The animals are released into reserves in Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the foundation has approximately a million acres of guarded land.

Contrary to popular belief, this is no rich man’s hobby. True, Damian is wealthy thanks to the chain of casinos he set up with media mogul Kerry Packer’s son James – but it is all self-made money. His father refused to help him financially, and at the time of his death, Howletts was running at a loss of millions.

Gorilla-loving father Damian Aspinall, 52, with his daughter Tansy Aspinall (now 23)

GORILLA-LOVING DAMIAN ASPINALL WITH HIS DAUGHTER TANSY

John Aspinall was the owner of Howletts and grandfather to Tansy Aspinall

JOHN ASPINALL WAS THE OWNER OF HOWLETTS AND GRANDFATHER TO TANSY ASPINALL

Damian has not only ensured its survival but turned it into a truly groundbreaking conservation project. Tansy also wants to play a part in the foundation’s work – mainly, she says, because of her childhood experiences.

‘I don’t really remember that specific moment with the gorillas but I do remember playing with them,’ says Tansy, who has just completed a degree in politics at Bristol University and is ‘on the job hunt’. 

‘I don’t have any of the fear of Gorillas that people normally have. I just feel love and warmth. Of all the  animals, Gorillas are my favourite. And that’s because they were always something I went in with as a child. I remember them being so gentle –  they almost treated me as if I was one of their own little babies.’

AMBAM THE GORILLA SHOWS HOW HE CAN WALK LIKE A HUMAN

Of course, there are dangers. During his adolescence Robin Birley, Lady Annabel Goldsmith’s society club-owning son, was mauled by a Tiger at Howletts. In 1980, a Tigress called Zeya was shot after killing two keepers, and in 1994 the park’s head keeper was killed when a two-year-old Siberian Tiger pounced on him.

And in 1989 a two-year-old boy had his arm ripped off by a Chimp after he reached into a cage to stroke it at another Aspinall park in Kent, Port Lympne. There is no record of a Gorilla ever killing a human.

Damian says: ‘I wouldn’t put my children or daughters in with an adult Tiger or a Lion regardless of the relationship – but Gorillas are different.’ Even so, times have changed, something Damian accepts. Tansy and her younger sister, Clary, 20, are Damian’s daughters with his first wife, Louise Sebag-Montefiore. The couple divorced in 1997. Both girls were allowed to play with the Gorillas but Freya, his eight-year-old daughter by his former partner, Donna Air, was not. He says: ‘I gave an interview when Freya was young and they said, “Would you take Freya in with the Gorillas?” I said, “Yes, sure.” There was uproar. The police called and said if you do this we’re going to have to come and interview you and social services called and said, “We might take your child if you do this.” The usual absolute nonsense.’

Still, he’s teaching her Tiger speak and Gorilla gurgles. He’s serious. ‘I can speak Wild Boar,’ he says. ‘When you wake up in the morning, open the bedroom door and two Tigers jump in your bed, you’re in serious trouble if you don’t know good morning in Tiger-speak.’

Damian’s earliest memory is of playing roly-poly on the lawn with Wolves and rolling over a wasps’ nest. ‘I was about eight and was with my sister,’ he recalls. ‘The swarm came out and they chased us and the Wolves, biting and stinging us everywhere. Even the Wolves screamed.

‘One of the animal people grabbed me, my sister and the Wolves and shoved us underwater at a trough. I remember opening my eyes under the water and a wolf and I just looked at each other terrified. My fear was never of the animals – but I’ve been wary of Wasps ever since.’

Damian Aspinall has put the film on the internet to show the amazing bond that can be formed between Gorillas and humans.

He said: ‘It’s a thing of great beauty in my life. It’s priceless. It’s a very deep connection and when you know that and see that, you will know what I mean.

‘That’s why I released the video. If seeing Tansy does a little bit more to reinforce the belief that there is a place for Gorillas on this planet, then people can say whatever they like.’

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Ringling Bros Circus Returns – But Without Animals!

The iconic circus is set for a comeback after closing in 2017. But this time, it will focus on human feats and stories, and so sparing animals from having to perform.

RINGLING BROS CIRCUS RETURNS – BUT WITHOUT ANIMALS

The so-called “Greatest Show on Earth” is set to make a comeback, as the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus announce its return to the stage. 

The Ringling Bros circus stopped its 146 year-run back in 2017, after falling ticket sales and a long history of criticism and legal challenges by animal rights groups who condemned the circus’s use of animals. 

Now, the show’s big return – set to begin with a huge 50-city tour next year – will for the first time be free of animals, and instead focus on human feats and narrative story lines. 

“Ringling has always evolved: Logically, in order to be successful for 146 years, you constantly have to change,” Kenneth Feld, the chief executive officer of Feld Entertainment, which purchased the circus in 1967, told The New York Times.

Ringling’s controversial use of animals had faced constant negative attention, with the circus forcing animals such as elephants, lions, and tigers to perform tricks, endure lengthy journeys across the country, and suffer many incidents of alleged animal abuse. 

Undercover investigations repeatedly revealed the miserable lives of the animals, including the Ringling Elephants who spent most of their long lives either in chains or on trains, under constant threat of the bullhook, or ankus—the menacing tool used to control elephants.

AN ELEPHANT BEING ‘TRAINED’ TO PERFORM BY TRAINERS WITH BULLHOOKS

As calls for better treatment towards animals have continued to grow over the years, Ringling’s latest iteration will reflect modern attitudes and instead focus on inspiring and exciting human performers. The circus has already begun worldwide auditions for performers in countries including Ethiopia, Mongolia, and the US, with the 50-city tour scheduled to begin on Sept. 28, 2023. 

Animal rights campaigners are among those welcoming the return of Ringling’s circus. 

“Feld’s decision to bring the circus back without animals sends a very clear message to the industry that the circus can dazzle audiences with willing human performers and that no animal needs to be exploited,” said Rachel Mathews, a director from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation, told the Times.

“What people see in the circus is a display of human dominance,” Mathews added. “The fact is the public doesn’t want to see that anymore.”

In 2009, PETA conducted a hidden-camera investigation into the treatment of Ringling’s elephants. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ordered Feld Entertainment, the circus’s parent company, to pay a $270,000 penalty to settle violations of the Animal Welfare Act for its treatment of performing animals.

Criticism of animal acts in the circus dates back to at least 1920s, when the Ringling circus, facing pushback from a growing animal rights movement, removed Lions and Tigers for about a decade, according to Greg Parkinson, the former executive director of Circus World Museum, in the Ringling family’s hometown, Baraboo, Wis. (The Sea Lion and Elephant performances stayed on.)

As Ringling Bros. announces an animal-free comeback tour after a five-year hiatus, PETA is offering it the group’s web domain Circuses.com, which was previously used to expose the abuse of animals used in its circus.

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Asian Elephant Mom Carries Dead Calf For Weeks, New Eye-Opening Videos Reveal

Asian Elephants, like their African cousins, seem to mourn their dead.

Female Elephants are very protective of their calves, and when youngsters die, some mothers continue carrying their babies’ corpses. 

Asian Elephants, like their African cousins, seem to mourn their dead, sometimes even carrying their lost infants in their trunks for days or weeks, new research finds. 

Whether Elephants  understand death in the same way humans do is unknown — and probably unknowable. But Asian Elephants are social creatures, and the new research adds to the evidence that they experience some sort of emotional response when they lose one of their own.

“Understanding Elephants’ response to death might have some far reaching effects on their conservation,” study co-authors Sanjeeta Sharma Pokharel of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute and Nachiketha Sharma of the  Kyoto University Institute for Advanced Study, wrote to Live Science in an email. “We have personally observed that when people witness an elephant responding to a dead kin, there will be some sense of relatedness, compassion and empathy towards the species. Therefore, anything which instantly connects people might pave the way for coexistence in elephant ranging countries.” 

Death ritual

African bush Elephants have long been observed reacting emotionally when a herd member dies. They might approach the body and touch it with their trunks, kick at the corpse or stand nearby as if on guard. Asian Elephants, however, are less well-understood. They tend to live in forested habitat, so they are harder to observe in the wild than savanna-dwelling African elephants.

“They can be 100 feet [30 meters] away from you, and you might not see them because the forest is so dense,” said Brian Aucone, the senior vice president for life sciences at the Denver Zoo, who was not involved in the new study. .

To get around this, Pokharel, Sharma, and their co-author Raman Sukumar, all of the Indian Institute of Science at the time, turned to YouTube, where remarkable animal videos are a staple. They searched the site for keywords related to Asian Elephants and death, and uncovered 39 videos of 24 cases between 2010 and 2021 in which one or more Asian Elephants were seen reacting to the loss of a herd mate. Eighty percent of the videos showed wild Elephants, 16% captive Elephants and 4% semi-captive Elephants (typically, semi-captive Elephants are animals that work in the timber industry or in tourist parks in Asia).

Some of the most striking behaviors seen in the videos occurred when a calf died. In five of the 12 videos showing a deceased calf, a female adult — likely the mother — was seen carrying the calf. Based on the state of decomposition of the corpse, it appeared that this carrying behavior went on for days or weeks.

Indian Forest Service ranger Parveen Kaswan uploaded one such video in 2019, showing an Asian Elephant dragging the body of a calf across a road in what he likened to a “funeral procession” in a post on Twitter at the time.

“I think they’re holding on and trying to grasp what has happened, and there’s something happening there with their interaction with their offspring, just like it would be with us,” Aucone said of the behavior.

Other commonEelephant reactions seen in the videos included restlessness or alertness when near the corpse; exploratory movements such as approaching or investigating the body; or touching and smelling. Elephants communicate through scent, Aucone said, so the sniffing is not surprising. In 10 cases, the elephants tried to lift, nudge or shake the body, as if to attempt to revive their lost comrade. In 22 cases, they seemed to stand vigil over the body.

AN ELEPHANT STROKING THE DEAD BODY WITH HIS TRUNK AS OTHERS STAND GUARD

“We’ve seen some of this before ourselves,” Aucone told Live Science. When the zoo euthanizes older Elephants due to illness or infirmity, the staff give herd mates a chance to say goodbye, Aucone said. The survivors often sniff the deceased Elephant or lay their trunks by its mouth, a social behavior.

Animal grief

Elephants aren’t the only social creatures that react to death, especially to the death of babies. Orca mothers have been observed pushing their dead calves around, as have dolphins. In 2018, an orca female named Tahlequah off the coast of Washington held on to her lost baby for 17 days. Other female orcas were seen huddled around Tahlequah and her dead newborn in the hours after the baby’s death in what looked like a circle of grief. Ape and monkey mothers sometimes carry around dead infants for weeks or months.

TAHLEQUAH PUSHED THE BODY OF HER DEAD BABY FOR 17 DAYS

In the case of the Elephants, which are devoted to caring for their young, the mother-calf bond is fundamental, Pokharel, Sharma and Sukumar wrote in the study, published Wednesday (May 18) in the journal Royal Society Open Science(opens in new tab). This is true of primates, as well, Pokharel and Sharma told Live Science.

“[T]he mother-calf/infant bonding in both Elephants and primates have some striking similarities as both nurture their young until they become strong enough to forage and defend themselves,” they wrote. “Therefore, this long lasting bond between mothers and calves/infants may potentially motivate mothers to respond towards their unresponsive calves. It is very difficult to predict the exact causations and functionality behind the dead infants carrying. But, some of the YouTube videos certainly provide evidence that some species may have some sense of death awareness.”

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PREGNANT ELEPHANT FOUND DEAD WITH ‘BLOOD COMING OUT OF ITS MOUTH AND ANUS’

THE PREGNANT SUMATRAN ELEPHANT IS SEEN LYING ON THE GROUND AT A PALM PLANTATION IN BENGKALIS, RIAU PROVINCE (PICTURE: EPA)

A critically endangered Elephant and its unborn baby were found dead in western Indonesia after a suspected poisoning.

Disturbing photographs show the animal with blood coming out of its mouth on the island of Sumatra.

Local authorities are now investigating the death of the pregnant Elephant, which was due to soon give birth.

Its corpse was discovered during a joint patrol by conservation groups on Wednesday.

Conservationists suspect the incident may be linked to the palm oil industry, which they say consider the animals a pest.

‘From the sign of changes in the shape of its internal organs, such as the lung, it looks like it is burning, black and oozing from the blood,’ said Zulhusni Syukri, programme director of Rimba Satwa Foundation, one of the groups that found the dead animal.

THE CARCASS OF A DEAD SUMATRAN ELEPHANT AND ITS UNBORN BABY IN BENGKALIS

Rimba Satwa strongly suspect the animal was poisoned as pineapple was found in its stomach, even though the tropical fruit does not grow in that area.

There are already fewer than 700 Sumatran Elephants remaining on the island.

According to Indonesian forestry and environment ministry, the number has gone down from 1,300 in 2014 to 693 last year.

This is why the species is protected under an Indonesian law on the conservation of biological natural resources and their ecosystems.

The decline has occurred amid a loss of more than 69% of the animal’s potential habitat in the last 25 years, the equivalent of one generation.

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