|How I became interested in elephants - and Teresita|
|Tuesday, 29 June 2010 09:55|
When I was eight years old, I won an interesting book about animals with a very beautiful book binding from my parents called “Marvelous and Mysteries of Animal World”. It was published in Brazil in 1966 by Reader's Digest. It was so beautiful that I have kept it with love until today.
I used to spend hours observing its photographs and reading its fascinating texts. I was very happy when getting closer to the page of the African elephant because it was my favorite part. A photo of the entire page showed a majestic elephant with enormous ivory walking out from the bushes. The heading was “Elephants are almost human.” The two pages of text narrated different past episodes in Uganda and Kenya where some characteristics like intelligence, cleverness, imagination, sense of humor, mourning, protective instinct and memory of the elephants could be observed. It said that the devotion of the elephants towards their young babies is touching, “almost human being.” It also explained how one or two elephants of a herd become guards for the aged once they not longer had strength to follow the herd and feed themselves. All these stories fascinated me so much that I never got tired of searching for the book on the shelf to see that photo.
I majored in Communication and Marketing, the field where I worked for more than 20 years professionally in multinational companies like IBM and Hewlett-Packard before changing to design (multi and inter-disciplinary) and having my own marketing services company. All the while, the image of that elephant was kept in my heart. Some years ago, my husband and I decided to go to South Africa to see the wild life closer and to show this world, that was so fascinating to me, to my children. One afternoon we stayed in a forest for a long time observing a herd of elephants that were gathering foliage from the trees. We were practically in the middle of that herd, a calm group with very small calves, and our ranger gave us some explanation about the elephants' behavior. He told us, for example, how they were active and liked to share their emotions with their family members.
Coming back from Africa, we went to the São Paulo Zoo. We wanted to see what condition the elephants there were living in. We left there sad and shocked. One of the elephants (an Asian female) had died together with more than hundred other animals in an unclarified case of poisoning and desease. Teresita, a lonely female African Elephant, made repetitive movements with her trunk and stayed in a corner of her enclosure. She was very different from the elephants in the wild. She couldn`t imagine how magnificent she could be.
After some time, we decided to go back to Africa, but this time we chose Kenya. Before the trip, we watched on TV a very interesting program about how elephants communicate. First on our program in Nairobi was a visit to the Elephant Orphanage, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. During the trip to different reserves and national parks we saw herds of elephants on the savannah and in the forests. We learned more about them and the most important thing is that we learned to love them more.
Once again, when I arrived in São Paulo, I went (alone) to see how Teresita was doing in the zoo. She continued in that same situation I had seen her some years ago. Most of the time, she stood still, moving her trunk sadly. Sometimes she walked to the fence where she placed her trunk through, searching for food items, and later came back to her old position and looked very sad. That was when I realized that I must not abandon her. Never.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 10 January 2013 12:07|