Friday, July 17, 2015

A Dose of Sanity: My Friends are Elephants

In the social media age, outrage has become a daily thing. Often we get outraged at misinformation and omission of facts. I'm going to share my experiences and observations. I ask you. Do your own homework!

Earlier this year, Ringling gave into the constant barrage of criticism and protesting of PETA. Don't cheer. They gave in to bullying. Bullying that came from opinions and not facts. Their decision misleads and confuses the public. Are circuses and festivals abusive if they have elephants and other exotic animals working at them?

No. They are not. PETA, pick your battles with more wisdom and less heartstring manipulation. Ten years ago I started storytelling and working sales at renaissance festivals across the country. My friend Rod Baird introduced me to three wonderful, amazing friends. Paige, Jean, and Chrissy. They are three of the elephants who work at renaissance festivals. You may have ridden them. You may have given them fruit, with permission and monitoring of their handlers. You may have laughed watching them play with their hoses and handlers. I have. I have fed them grasses and watched them play ball with a small jack russell terrier during the week, while their handlers smiled and attended to chores. The elephants on renaissance circuit are loved and constantly attended and supported by their owners. Bill Swain has posted education on how many weekends his elephants work, as well as where they spend their time off. The handlers are educated and ethical. Every handler I know, and I know most of them, loves the elephants they work with. Even years later, ask them about the elephants, their eyes light up. They tell story after story, each priceless and beautiful. The elephants diets are monitored, their health is paramount, their happiness even more so. The elephants love working faire. They love you, the patrons. They love the attention.

I worked the Colorado show right next to the elephants. In the morning Rod Baird and I would go and greet the three girls as they came in. We always told Chrissy she was beautiful. One day we got distracted on our way there, we were looking at pictures of Rod's adorable granddaughter. It started raining pebbles on us. We turned around. Chrissy was waiting! She was trying to give us a gently hint that she missed our morning routine and that we were late.

I have driven past the elephants as they go on walks during the week with their handlers. No leash. What an honor it is to see them enjoying their day, eating and walking around, exploring the area. I hope that you get that chance someday. They do this here, in America, where there are no poachers poised in the bushes to kill them for ivory. But if you feel this is 'torture and inhuman' send them back to Africa where there isn't enough money to hire enough people to keep them safe. Did you miss the news of other countries deciding to keep African animals in zoo programs, where they could live well and safely rather than sending them back to Africa to die at the hands of poachers? Did you forget that poachers are probably sitting back and laughing, counting on impulsive bleeding hearts to fill their greedy coffers and hand them fresh elephants to kill. Way to go 'Merica, perhaps instead of being rash and jumping the gun, do some research. Learn, listen, observe- what you do not understand- ask about, do not assume or drink up on opinions. Facts people.

The day that greed is no longer a word, that apathy is outdated, and that revenge is a thing of the past is the day the human race moves forward. It is too far off yet.

Now, if you really want something to be angry about, go watch "Earthling" it is a documentary. It was highly rated. It was terrible and excellent. You want to change the world? To protect animals, start by pressuring for changes in the meat packing industry, leather industry, and fur trade. You want something at renaissance faires to be indignant about?

You go to renaissance faires and wear a fox tail because it looks 'cool'?

Here's some information for you: those foxes are raised in pens, never knowing the world. They are killed for their furs, they put a rod in the foxes ass. They electrocute the fox. There is your pretty, pretty tail and fox face you just have to have for your "Game of thrones" look.

And if that didn't get you, did you know that originally, those tails were given to the girls the jousters were having sex with, as a polite but visible way for jousters and their friends to know which "hotties" were taken? This was from ancient renaissance faire history, the jousters no longer do this. Many prefer boardgames and raising families over the old rockstar style that some earlier jousters lived back in the 1980s. Next time you go to faire, look at those tails. Think of those thousands of foxes that WERE not well treated, think about those Joust Bunnies and stop buying tails.