It’s World Elephant Day.
Today, I choose to celebrate animals instead of stress over the convergence of the white nationalists and their unkempt facial hair onto DC. I’ll also encourage you to donate money or share information with your friends or protest your local zoo, or order a pet portrait from me so that I can then give that money to elephants. Or protest Betsy DeVos as a human being, or… I don’t know, adopt one of these chickens from the Humane Rescue Alliance. However you want to celebrate.
This holiday (should be a federal holiday, right? Maybe I’ll skip work tomorrow, on principle) always makes me think a lot about the injustice of what’s happening to elephants, which usually spirals into a tornado of all of the injustices in the world.
Here’s something I thought about today.
I currently work in veterans’ law, dealing with disability appeals, and so I am more aware than I used to be about how policy affects veterans differently than other demographics. The New York Times covered Betsy DeVos’s decision to roll back transparency requirements that for-profit colleges are supposed to meet, that are supposed to protect prospective students. Not only is her decision transparently dirty, as most of her minions are involved in the for-profit college scam and get A LOT of money from taking advantage of students, but it can disproportionately affect veterans because of how they pay for school.
Please return to the ritzy hell whence you came, Betsy.
A 22,000 square foot summer home…? Who needs that?
Anyway, this realization sort of strengthened my resolve to do better at work, to do better for elephants, to do better for many marginalized demographics, rather than sit around and complain. There are so many ways people can be taken advantage of, and conversely, so many ways to help.
It can be overwhelming to think about all of the terrible stuff going on, especially living in DC where complaining about policy and social justice issues is super posh. But I saw on instagram the other day (while making responsible use of my time) the quote by Mr. Rogers where he encourages us to “look for the helpers,” meaning that, where there is injustice, there are people trying to make it right.
And those are the people we should look to for guidance, rather than seething over the purveyors of injustice. Focusing on the good that’s being done, and working to improve on that, is a much better source of motivation.
I recently attended a day of the Taking Action for Animals conference (TAFA), hosted by the Humane Society of the US every other year or so. First and foremost, I got to hear Allison Argo speak. She made the film about Shirley and Jenny, the two ex-circus elephants who were reunited after a long time apart and remembered each other. Watch this famous clip and let the tears flow freely.
More importantly, I got to immerse myself in a community of people who consider the compassionate treatment of animals to be common sense. It was invigorating and inspiring, and the food was pretty good. I got to hear people speak passionately about tiny birds, big cats, and horseshoe crabs, and it reminded me that all animals deserve as much attention as elephants. A little blind dog gnawed on my hand. It was glorious.
Working in animal welfare is tough, as is other employment in which you mostly deal with the worst people in society, some from your home state. A pretty clear secondary theme of the conference was to focus on the good being done, to remember all the achievements of the past few years to strengthen resolve moving forward.
In honor of focusing on the good, and remembering the marginalized, I wanted to highlight other species besides elephants that need our attention, while also focusing on the ways people are already helping them. And, because art is therapeutic, I’m drawing them (sorry, not sorry).
In honor of World Elephant MONTH 2018, I present to you
the ABCs of endangered species
Sure, it’s sad that these gorgeous and unique animals are endangered, but yay for the groups working to save them.
Our first celebrity endangered species is, behold,
the Amur Leopard.
Far East leopard, Manchurian leopard, or Korean leopard.
Northeastern China and the Russian Far East – also known as Amur-Heilong. More specifically, according to Science Daily, the Primorskii Province of Russia and the Jilin Province of China. I know nothing about these places.
Like 84 – which is an increase from the 30 counted in 2000, and 70 in 2015.
Like many other endangered species, conserving the Amur leopard’s habitat benefits the other species that live there, like tigers and deer. Plus, the Amur leopard can jump 19 feet in the air – that’s reason enough to warrant saving it (and to warrant staying the hell away from it).
But, similarly to elephants, why don’t we consider saving them because they are animals, and they’re worth saving. Moreover, since its sort of our fault as humans that they’re in trouble, then it is our duty as humans to right that wrong.
A few things. Its habitat is shrinking, and its being poached for its beautiful coat. Obviously my drawing won’t do it justice, so here is an actual photo.
It also suffers from a shortage of prey (like deer), which also benefit from habitat conservation.
Thankfully, the Land of the Leopard National Park was established in Russia in 2012, giving the leopards 650,000 acres of safe space to roam. It was largely this move that allowed the population to begin to recover.
- WildCats Conservation Alliance
- Wildlife Conservation Society in Russia
- World Wildlife Fund
- I can’t tell whether Big Cat Rescue supports zoo breeding programs or not, so, BRB with this information.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Thoughts and prayers! Just kidding, that doesn’t work.
Though I’m skeptical about where donor dollars go with big organizations, feel free to adopt a leopard through WWF for $55 – you get an adorable plush toy in return.
Um…. go to North Korea and herd their leopards across the Russian border? Maybe don’t do that either. For several reasons.
Find ways to support groups that are working to save them? Yes. You’re smart – do this however you want.
Boycott Betsy DeVos for funsies? Somehow, this will help.
Boycott zoos? Definitely. (BTW, just because some animals live longer in captivity doesn’t mean they live well… It’s still inhumane to cage wild animals).
Tell your friends how cute Amur leopards are and how high they can jump? Absolutely.
Do things that make you happy and be nice to others? Good place to start.
Happy World Elephant Month! ❤