Yesterday I bought some salted peanuts in the shell. Today while I was waiting for water t boil for my tea, I grabbed a couple of peanuts, and a memory flashed past. I was very small and probably at a zoo, and feeding a solitary elephant a peanut as she reached her trunk over the metal fence. Finger-like tips at the end of her trunk first sniffed and blew warm breath on my hand, then gently took the peanut. I remember the moment clearly now, but I didn’t know what kind of a being was at the end of that prehensile trunk.

I had only one solitary peanut to give to an elephant who in her natural life would have roamed 20-30 miles a day pulling branches off trees, even those with thorns and eating them or using her trunk to peel bark to eat. I think if she’d wanted to, the elephant at the zoo could have smashed through the wrought iron fence and taken anything she wanted to.

Today it pains me to see elephants in zoos or behind bars where they are kept from ranging miles through the bush to forage. This constant movement helps keep their joints supple and healthy. In a zoo, they can’t wander miles and miles, and they often stand on concrete which gives them painful leg and foot ailments, shortens their lifespans and dooms them to a life of loneliness.

We say we want to keep them in zoos so our children can learn about wildlife. Yet the relatives of the elephants we keep captive are being killed each day. 100 elephants are hunted for their ivory each day. That number doesn’t include elephants killed by trophy hunters. At this rate, they will be extinct in 5-10 years. 

If we want our children to know wildlife and see animals as a vital part of our ecosystem, they need to see them treated ethically and protected. When you support Africa Hope Fund, you help educate children who will grow up to be good stewards of all wildlife in Zambia, and you will leave a rich inheritance for your children to enjoy. My hope is that they enjoy elephants through wildlife films, sanctuaries where they can live their lives out in peace, trips to the African continent, or in beautiful books that teach about elephant families, their sentience and their great, huge, hearts.


Written by Patricia Cole

An Africa Hope Fund board member for 7 years, Pat is a writer and a conservation activist. After traveling to Zambia, she became dedicated to helping Africa Hope Fund provide education to the next generation of Africans and ensure their future by protecting wildlife. Find Patricia on Facebook and Twitter, or on her websites www.writepatwrite.com and www.patmcole.com.

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Carol Van Brugen