We have loved you from the moment you came into this world on 14 April 1962 at The Oregon Zoo, or we would have loved you then, had we been born.
Just like any sweet baby elephant that arrives, you were irresistible, surely front page news, as your future offspring were. You were born in captivity and it is all you ever knew. You never had a chance to become an elephant, to truly live as elephants do.
In the beginning of your 54 years on this earth little was known about the lives of captive elephants. But through the span of time, into this 21st century, so much was discovered about the cruelty of keeping your species, the largest land mammal, behind bars.
You may have been born in captivity but we knew you, an Asian bull elephant, had instincts and intelligence, and feelings beyond the realm that even some humans do. You were an elephant begging to be an elephant, the least of which, considering your captive birth, was a release to a true sanctuary which would have given you more freedom and space.
And even while you were very sick with “a drug-resistant strain of TB“, which was the rationalization for putting you down, there were those humans who would have fought for you to be able to live. In fact, they were fighting for your life because they had witnessed a marked improvement in your stamina and your health.
Yet in the end, as much as you had given to the community around you, the decision was made by those in charge (METRO Council & The Oregon Zoo Director, Don Moore) to not even consider a kinder alternative such as relocation to the nearby PAWS Sanctuary or to administer palliative care.
Their kinder alternative was to stop the $$$ dollars flowing out for your care since you were deemed no longer useful or judged incapable (you were isolated out of public view because of your TB) of bringing in more $$$ cash. (Insert sarcasm here.)
There were, and still are, those of us out there, who were trying to serve as your voice. Because every time you would attempt to communicate with those around you, and you would stare in sadness with your liquid brown eyes, nothing life-changing ever took place.
You needed humans to understand that you were an elephant and you needed them to truly care. Not to build and enclose you in an even larger exhibit, more akin to an amusement park.
You needed humans to realize that elephants were born to be elephants, even those who had never experienced the aromas, felt the breezes and sang the songs of the wild. All of our elephants are of the wild, whether humans choose to recognize that or not.
It is time now to honor you, our Packy the elephant, in death as we failed to do in your life. It is time now to never exhibit another elephant for humans to gaze endlessly at or stand next to for a “selfie” photo op.
Yes, we all love elephants, we adore them. Just anticipating the birth of a baby elephant and having the chance to experience that elephant’s every milestone is beyond sweet. But we must think beyond the selfishness of our own human lives. We must think about our elephants. We must have empathy and compassion for their elephant lives.
Packy, may your death not be in vain and may your life serve as a testament to end captivity of our elephants. Our sweet elephant Packy we will never forget you and the joy you brought into our lives. It’s time to pay it forward to your elephant family and captive elephants everywhere.
From this day forward it is time to bring joy to whatever years we can save of any captive elephant’s life. It is time to find true elephant sanctuaries for our elephants in captivity; for those now in zoos or held captive by a circus or constrained by individuals and used in any capacity for human entertainment.
This is for you Packy, in honor of your life.
Your humble servant,
Elephant Spoken Here
** RE: the Category AbZOOlutely Not** or The Controversy of Zoos & Others Keeping Elephants in Captivity. While there are some Zoos & others that demonstrate exemplary methods of elephant care, unfortunately, they do not represent the “lion’s share”.