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* * * ABOUT THE ELEPHANT NATURE FOUNDATION AND PARK * * *Elephant Nature Foundation is a non-profit organization which advocates and acts on behalf of the rights of Asian elephants in Thailand. Their mission is to increase awareness about the plight of the endangered Asian elephant, educate locals on the humane treatment of their elephants, and provide sanctuary for rescued elephants at their nature park. Elephant Nature Park, their showpiece project, provides a safe home to rescued elephants who were previously abused and neglected.
The path that has lead me here has not been a straight nor narrow one. It has meandered through many side trails and in doing so allowed me to discover courage, allow confrontation, feel tears, realize acceptance, embrace choice and, finally, welcome my own voice. As a survivor and consequently a sufferer of PTSD, the need to find an encompassing connection to something meaningful and at the same time provide inner peace has been a sort of mission.
* * * * * ON A MORE PERSONAL NOTE * * * * *
Several years ago, my sister introduced me to the magnificent and complex nature of the elephant. Despite their intimidating size and strength, they are often referred to as the gentle giants of the animal kingdom, loving, caring and peaceful at heart. In an ideal (natural) environment and left on their own, they will flourish in advanced social organizations while at the same time maintaining complex levels of communication between the groups of individuals. We began to understand and draw parallels of elephant psychology and sociology to our own lives and experiences. Elephants are very intelligent creatures that experience similar emotions to that of human beings, including PTSD. They also have not just a voice, but nuances within the voice that allows them to express that emotion. Sounds include growls, rumbles,trumpets, squeals, shrieks and low frequency vocalizations. With that, I believe these elephants can feel.
But... of all the amazing characteristics of elephants, the one that has intrigued us the most is the altruistic behavior of the family unit. When a calf is in trouble or is in need, there isn't one trunk reaching out to help, there are thirty. It is the complete absence of motherless love. This connection is profound.
This connection has flourished within me, nurturing my connection to these amazing elephants and even more importantly a new connection with my sister. A healthy purposeful one that has overshadowed our past traumas of years ago.
Further research and exploration of this elephant culture had prompted an interest, for both me and my sister, to see them and help them in person. Abuse and neglect, whether from captivity or abusive work conditions ranging from circus showcasing to illegal use in logging, has presented similar PTSD that we've experienced. And the need to help them the way they've helped us is finally being brought to fruition.