Lucy in Captivity – The Ethics of Moving Her — elephanatics

Lucy is one of the world’s most controversial elephants. She lives alone in Edmonton’s Valley Zoo. For year’s activists have tirelessly campaigned to have her moved to a sanctuary where she can live out her life in a warmer climate with other elephants. Elephants are known to be exceptionally emotionally intelligent and social animals. On […]

via Lucy in Captivity – The Ethics of Moving Her — elephanatics

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2016 Mardi Gras for Elephants and Rhinos: A celebration 4 life

12734243_10153776260215358_6944977851216971239_n.jpgAs some of you may know I work to raise awareness of the issues facing the world’s remaining Asian and African elephants. I am part of a group based in Vancouver called Elephanatics. We are a conservation group that does educational outreach, action and advocacy in Canada on behalf of elephants.

For the last two years we have organized a event in Vancouver that is part of a global, grassroots initiative called The Global March for Elephants and Rhinos. Last year over 140 cities organized worldwide. This year we hope to have even more cities participate. Our goal is put continued  pressure on governments and policy makers worldwide to end the ivory and rhino horn trade and to save many of Africa’s endangered species by moving them to Appendix 1 under the convention of the international trade in endangered wildlife and fauna known as CITES.

We are encouraging people in cities around the world to organize events large and small (last year two elderly women organized an event on their street corner which was completely inspiring!)

Without global action elephants and rhinos will be extinction with 10 to 25 years.

On September 24th events will be held worldwide for the opening day of CoP17 in Johannesburg.

Vital decisions on elephants, rhinos and lions are to be made at CoP17 by 181 members of CITES. Our objectives are to halt all trade and to get governments (who are CITES members) to change laws, have political will to stop the trade.

Last year over 50,000 people marched to raise awareness and to demand an end to the poaching crisis that is pushing them rapidly towards extinction.

The poaching of elephants and rhinos has reached unprecedented heights in recent years as the demand for ivory and rhino horn has soared in China and other mainly Asian markets.

An elephant is brutally killed every 15 minutes – 35,000 every year.

A rhino is poached every 11 hours with an estimated 24,000 left in the world. Over 1,000 rhinos were poached last year alone, compared to 13 in 2007.

Speakers at Vancouver’s events this year are:

Patricia Sims –  Co-Founder of the annual World Elephant Day, a global awareness campaign that brings attention to the critical threats facing elephants. The campaign reaches millions of individuals across the globe through events, traditional media, and social media outreach.
She produced, directed and wrote the documentary When Elephants Were Young,  narrated by William Shatner which won best documentary awards in both the Whistler Film Festival and Palm Springs FF..

Paul Blackthorne is an English Actor for film, television, and radio. He is currently a lead actor in the series “Arrow” which is filmed in Vancouver BC. Over the past three years he has collaborated with different conservation organizations to help raise awareness about the poaching crisis facing the African elephant and the rhino. He has run two successful t-shirt campaigns: One in Vietnam for the rhino with the slogan “Keep Rhinos Horny” and another for the elephant “Poach Eggs Not Elephants”.He is a committed social activist for wildlife conservation and has implemented a range of activities calling for joint global efforts to save wild animals, especially the elephant and rhino.

Mike Farnworth is the current NDP MLA for Port Coquitlam.
He serves as Opposition Spokesperson for Justice (Public Safety and Solicitor General).

Mike has been adamant in trying to fight a loophole in Canadian law that allows rhino horn to be sold if it can be proven to be obtained before 1975. Illegal horn is easily mixed with legal horn and thus forms a loophole. He recently tabled a private members bill at the legislature to outlaw the sale of ivory and rhino horn.
Join us on Twitter: @condofire @elephanaticsBC
Vancity_GlobalMarchElephants Instagram

Here is a short informational video about the ivory trade:


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Random Musing: On Cynicism

I don’t want to be cynical. I battle it but every week, every day, every hour something happens and you think, “My god. We’re monsters.” Scan the planet and its people, what they do and what they don’t do and the consequence of their actions|inaction and you slide into despair. Everyday there’s devastation to people, the planet and the incredible flora and fauna that inhabits this big beautiful planet of ours.

Right now for a project I’m reminding myself of the events of the Second World War. Racism and nationalism killed 30 million people. 6 million Jews. These are just words. When I read these words I imagine the living of it in stark human detail. These people had families, neighbours, children. They loved, went to school, had careers,love affairs, dreams, heartaches and aspirations. They lived and breathed and walked streets to cafes and restaurants. This is my era right now.

But there are others – Rwanda, Vietnam, the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the kidnapping of Nigerian school girls, religious wars, Syria, the mass movement of refugees from Africa and the Middle East, the murder of innocent people in Paris, Orlando, San Bernadino, Beirut, Turkey. It goes on and on and on.We haven’t even gotten to wildlife – elephants, those beautiful, soulful animals who have roamed this earth for millions of years whose existence, like so many others, is threatened by human action.

But now I’m swimming backwards aren’t I. And I feel hopeless. People sometimes ask me why I spend my time helping elephants (and other animals). Why elephants they say? The deep, cynical part of me wants to answer, “Because people aren’t worth my time. Look at what they do.” And I stop myself because it’s not entirely true. The truth is I do think that sometimes. But I work for elephants because I saw something that ate at my soul for a long time. And for a long time after  I never did anything until the day I decided to do something. And I still see this elephant. In a convention centre in Toronto. People standing around, staring and he looked lost and disconnected from anything meaningful in his life and it struck such a discordant note within me that I have never forgotten that image. It still makes me cry.

I work for elephants because that encounter moved me deeply.  And now I’m driven by it.

But I want to go back to people for a moment. I want to say this. Like every other human being on this planet I am affected by the extraordinary things that people are capable of. I am affected by art and beauty. By people reaching deep inside themselves to express the inexpressible , to outline the shadows that live beneath the every day things in life. Music, stories, art, dance, photographs, film restore my faith. They tell a collective story of our humanity. And I’m thankful to people when I feel these things.

I’m also thankful to people for their unexpected kindnesses and generosity. And I love their brilliance. My sister has been diagnosed with brain cancer. In a few weeks, an incredibly smart, gifted, dedicated and caring team of people will remove her tumour using the latest science has to offer. I am thankful to each and everyone of those people and all the people who have worked before to make all of it possible.

When I wake up and find out that more people have been senselessly lost to murder, I am going to fight hard to swim towards the sun.  I am going to remember what we have achieved and will achieve as people and individuals. I will re-commit myself to ‘doing’ things to help elephants and to making this place a better place for everyone. Because we’ve come a long way but we have much further to go. And we can only get there by leaving cynicism behind and embracing hope and the belief that we can each as individuals make a difference. I believe that.



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Poem of the Week: Aimless Love by Billy Collins via Poetry Mistress Alison McGhee

Aimless Love
– Billy Collins

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.
In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.
This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.
The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.
No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.
No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then
for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.
But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.
After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,
so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.


For more information about Billy Collins, please click here.

Thanks to Alison for finding and sharing these gems. Check out Alision’s


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Primo Levi: Survival in Auschwitz

I’m working on a writing project which requires me to become more educated with the events and history of the Second World War.The life of my mother and father, teenagers during the war,  and one of my best friends, a child of the 1938  Kinder-transport to England and Ireland, have been a backdrop to my own life. As I discover more about their lives I have become deeply interested in the cultural, historic and political drivers of those times. I am also interested in the every day lives of people and how lives were shaped against the backdrop of such cataclysmic, global horror.

My husband Dave recommended Primo Levi’s book Survival in Auschwitz. It’s fair to say that many books push me towards a nice dull slumber when I read before sleep, this one, however, did not and I lay awake thinking into the dark of the night while reading it.

The story is about Primo Levi, a twenty-five year old  Italian chemist who was captured by Italian Fascists and deported from Turin to Auschwitz.  Anyone who has taken a history class or knows anything about the Second World War, of course, knows that 6 million Jews were killed in camps during the war. It’s when you read the autobiography of someone to whom this has happened that the brutality of this war drives home deeper and further into  the darker corners of your heart.

From being moved to the work camp in Northern Italy to the arrival of the cargo trains where Levi and thousands of others were transported like cattle to Auschwitz, the reader is taken step by step on Primo’s journey of dehumanization.

Upon arrival they were stripped of their clothing, their heads shaved, rags handed to them, and families forever separated. The back breaking senseless work they were forced to do, the bone chilling cold and starvation rations ended millions of people’s lives and divided the camps between those who were willing to survive at any cost.

Primo talks about the promise that many people of his city (Turin) made upon their arrival at the camp to continue to try and meet to uphold morale. This ended after only weeks as few survived the backbreaking conditions or the ‘selections’ to extermination camps.

Primo survives the war and as he points out, the mystery to his survival included a great deal of luck and the kindness of a stranger who helped to augment his rations.

This is a dark, very well written story. When I look around at these uncertain times – thousands of displaced refugees, the desire to build walls, hatred and suspicion of anyone different, deeply institutionalized racism, I think to myself, wow, let’s all read history. Let’s soak it up. Let’s never, ever forget where this leads us.


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New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies with super secret ingredient

14SESAME6-master675-v2I know you have all heard this before in some form or another but this time I’m not kidding.  There are many kinds of chocolate chip cookies that are outstanding and I even have a recipe on this site that I’ve already ranted and raved about. But this one, no joke, is THE best. My friend Erica came over the other day and said she would bring cookie dough over to bake for dessert. Who am I to argue? She never said what was in the chocolate chip cookies just that it was  a new recipe. Well guess what? These cookies were amazing and I couldn’t figure out what made them so delicious, and nutty and buttery and yummy all at the same time. Was it the extraordinary amount of chocolate chips in the recipe? The butter? The sea salt?  You practically don’t need anything else…but she did put something else in and it was shocking and amazing to discover that it was Tahini. That’s right. Sesame butter. That amazing ingredient that makes hummus so damn delicious.

I just say throw away all other chocolate chip cookie recipes and just use this one. It’s THAT fantastic. Thank you Smish for sharing this little gem.

Thanks New York Times for sharing this fantastic recipe. You can find the original link and recipe here.


  • 4 ounces/113 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ½ cup/120 milliliters tahini, well stirred
  • 1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons/150 grams all-purpose flour, or matzo cake meal (See tip)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ¾ cups/230 grams chocolate chips or chunks, bittersweet or semisweet
  • Flaky salt, like fleur de sel or Maldon
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, tahini and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla and continue mixing at medium speed for another 5 minutes.
  2. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt into a large bowl and mix with a fork. Add flour mixture to butter mixture at low speed until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to fold in chocolate chips. Dough will be soft, not stiff. Refrigerate at least 12 hours; this ensures tender cookies.
  3. When ready to bake, heat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick baking mat. Use a large ice cream scoop or spoon to form dough into 12 to 18 balls.
  4. Place the cookies on the baking sheet at least 3 inches apart to allow them to spread. Bake 13 to 16 minutes until just golden brown around the edges but still pale in the middle to make thick, soft cookies. As cookies come out of the oven, sprinkle sparsely with salt. Let cool at least 20 minutes on a rack.

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The Importance of an Ivory Burn

The Importance of an Ivory Burn


Some people ask what the reasoning is behind an ivory burn. Some have suggested that flooding the market with ivory would help drive down prices and demand or that a one-time sale of this ivory could fund conservation efforts.

Discussion was further fuelled by Kenya’s recent ivory burn that took place in Nairobi National Park on April 28th, 2016. With eleven pyres of the tusks of roughly 8,000 elephants, as well as rhino horns and animal skins, this was the largest burn every to take place.

Many nations, including the US and Kenya have publicly destroyed ivory contraband to stop the trade. (Ivory Stockpile Burns 1989 – 2016)

Here are some reasons why the ivory burn was the right decision.

  • The ivory is illegal to sell as per CITES Appendix I and many nations’ laws;
  • Previous one-off sales of ivory have resulted in dramatic increases in poaching; and its sale would be morally reprehensible.
  • Countries who destroy ivory show that they value the whole elephant, that ivory belongs only on them, and it’s valuable ONLY to living elephants.
  • If Kenya’s 105-tonne ivory stockpile had legally entered the market, it would have provided a conduit for laundering the vast amounts of illegal ivory that are smuggled out of Africa and into Asian nations, funding terrorist groups like Boko Haram and al-Shabab.
  • History has shown us that after CITES listed the African elephant on Appendix I and banned the international trade in ivory in 1989, poaching levels dropped, elephant populations began to recover and flourish again, and the illegal trade slowed dramatically.
  • The two legal CITES one-off sales of ivory stockpiles, to Japan in 1997 and Japan and China in 2008, had disastrous consequences for African elephants.
  • China’s ivory carving factories fired up and the poaching crisis exploded.
  • More than 100,000 African elephants have been slaughtered in recent years, with approximately 90% of tusks successfully smuggled through transit nations and into the vast black market. The New York Times reported in 2012 that 70% of illegal ivory was being smuggled into China. Legal trade fuels poaching and increases demand for more ivory.
  • China’s population is 1.408 *billion* people. Even if only 1% of the Chinese people purchased ivory, that’s still 14 million people demanding it. With only about 450,000 elephants at most still existing on the African continent, the species would be wiped out with legal trade and an escalation in demand.
  • It’s estimated that only 10% of illegal tusks are intercepted and seized. Imagine how immense Kenya’s burning stockpile would have been if all illegal ivory had been recovered.

Elephant advocate Ann Early made the point about today’s ivory burn in the most succinct statement we’ve read, and kindly gave her permission to share it:

“All day I’ve been defending the Kenya ivory cremation in comments on articles or posts from people who think the tusks should be put on the market to raise money for Kenya. it is hard for some people to grasp the moral contradiction of selling the tusks of poached elephants into the ivory market while decrying the destruction and unspeakable torment of this species by that very same trade.”

Kenya did the right thing and we applaud the Kenya Wildlife Service for their hard work and vision, as well as Dr. Richard Leakey and Dr. Winnie Kiiru who supervised the operation and the verification of inventory. Thank you to all the elephant researchers and conservationists who attended the ivory burn; as heartrending as these images are for those of us a continent and ocean away, we can only imagine how sorrowful it must have been for you to witness in person with the acrid smell of smoke and death in the air.

Someday future generations who will inherit the earth will look back at these times and the ghastly crimes against elephants and nature, which are also crimes against humanity, particularly the African people. Robbing a nation’s people of their wildlife – which provides tourism jobs and accounts for 12% of Kenya’s GDP – and killing the creatures who grow the forests and are intrinsic parts of their ecosystems is a crime against the nation’s people.

Humanity should collectively hang our heads in shame for the elephants’ unfathomable suffering and tortuous deaths. It’s a stain on our species that legal trade in ivory was ever allowed and that we have not yet stopped the poaching. It is our imperative to do so.

This is our last chance to save elephants from extinction. We don’t get a do-over once they’re gone, and if we allow elephants and rhinos to go extinct, it would be humanity’s unpardonable crime.

Photo credits:

First photo: Stand Up Shout Out

Text adopted from : ‪#‎GMFER core strategist Lori Sirianni, on behalf of the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos

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