An elephant walks in the dessert.

By Jon Bastian

We posted a story about Cesar rescuing an elephant from a non-existent zoo in Northern California. As many of you guessed, it was our April Fool’s joke, and it was viewed by nearly 1.5 million people — which is two to three times the number of elephants believed to be alive in the world today.

While the original story was a prank (Santa Broma was one clue) and meant as a joke (Los Chistes was the second) during that funny month (Tsuki Okashi), as written by April Foley (a lot of people got that one), with Maya arriving on April 31st (which doesn’t even exist in a leap year), we hope that it served to raise awareness of the mistreatment of this incredible, intelligent, emotional, loving species.

Thanks to your responses, we learned of the plight of Mali, an Asian elephant who lives alone in a cramped enclosure at the Manila Zoo in the Philippines. Like dogs, and humans, elephants are very social animals. They live in groups, and form life-long bonds with each other. Solitary confinement is just as bad for an elephant as it is for a human.

We also learned of an elephant sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee where these marvelous creatures have been given refuge on 2,700 acres of land. It costs $133,000 annually to provide for one elephant, and the sanctuary has a goal of rescuing 100. If you’d like to adopt an elephant, you can do it through their website.

Elephants are highly intelligent mammals, frequently mistreated by humans. Sadly, for centuries, they were killed for the ivory in their tusks. In the decade alone before international trade in elephant ivory was banned in 1989, the population of African elephants was reduced by over half, from 1.3 million to about 600,000.

On average, elephants live into their 70s, and, like humans, they exhibit mourning behavior upon the loss of a family member or friend. They are known to honor their dead, and visit so-called “elephant graveyards” regularly. Elephant brains are very similar to human brains. They are, in fact, among the most intelligent species on the planet, and have the largest brains of any land animal.

Our story may have been a joke, but the subject of elephants is serious, and just one more reminder that every chance we have to respect and communicate with an animal is Nature’s gift to us.

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