Elephants Walk Together by Cheryl Lawton Malone and illustrated by Bistra Masseva
This book explores the suffering of elephants in captivity and the cruelty of it. No animal should be kept captive. Elephants, due to their social nature and their need to roam, suffer greatly in captivity. They suffer psychological damage from being torn from their families and being alone when they are social animals and often suffer terribly with foot ailments due to standing on hard concrete when their bodies are made for grass. They don’t belong in zoos and should never be used in circuses or suffer for other such human entertainment. Fortunately their plight is finally getting some recognition and some change is occurring, but it is too little and not happening fast enough.
This book is a fictional account inspired by the true story of two elephants captured in the wild and forced to perform in circuses or suffer in zoos before they were reunited in an elephant sanctuary, which is explained in a note at the end of the book. It is long past time for a picture book to show the truth of elephants in circuses and zoos instead of painting a rosy picture. I am sickened when I see how many children’s books still are published that celebrate circuses and zoos.
There is a wonderful elephant sanctuary in Tennessee that I support, called The Elephant Sanctuary. They take in elephants from zoos, circuses, and other abusive situations and give them freedom and medical care and love and kindness for the rest of their lives. There is also the PAWS Sanctuary in California, which is discussed in the note at the end of the book. I hope there will be a day when all humans cringe at the thought of seeing an elephant perform in a circus or being chained or confined in a zoo and are ashamed at the past abuse of elephants. It has gone on too long and caused untold suffering. Sanctuaries such as The Elephant Sanctuary and PAWS should be the only future for elephants that cannot live in the wild where they belong. I also hope elephants in the wild still exist in the coming generations, as they are critically endangered by human poaching and expansion, which is also discussed in the note at the end of the book.