In 1996, Wayne Hepburn, owner of Mission Media, received an elephant paperweight as a gift from his daughter. This triggered Wayne’s fascination with the majestic pachyderms, and he went on to create Elephant Appreciation Day, celebrated on the 22nd of September every year. Despite its rather facile origin, Elephant Appreciation Day evolved into something more profound – a day to raise awareness about the plight of Elephants and appreciate these majestical creatures.
Every year, the Wildlife SOS team at the Elephant Conservation and Care Center celebrates this day with the utmost dedication, leaving no stone unturned to shower our resident elephants with love and affection. Our team begins brainstorming weeks in advance, attempting to come up with innovative ideas to make the day enjoyable for the elephants. This year, ECCC staff and veterinarians decided to stack the various fruits one atop another to allow the elephants to topple over the fruits before diving in!
With the ideation process complete, the team eagerly awaits Elephant Appreciation day, wherein they wake up in the wee hours of the morning, chopping kilos of fruits and vegetables. The delicious assortment is then meticulously laid out while our elephants are out for their daily morning walk. The elephants return from their walk to find a scrumptious feast in front of them!
What made this year’s Elephant Appreciation Day extra special was the presence of newly rescued elephants Nina and Emma. Nina is a docile 60-year-old elephant suffering from complete blindness. She was rescued as a processional elephant. Adorned in heavy ornaments and garments, Nina’s life was riddled with abuse and neglect. Similarly, Emma was rescued as a begging elephant who spent her days walking on blazing tarmac roads with no proper access to food. Emma’s footpads were torn thin with shards of glass, metal, rusted nails poking out of her feet. She survived on scraps and leftovers, and was forced to consume alcohol by her owner, who assumed the drink would alleviate her pain. The two elephants were rescued from their harrowing life this year itself, making this their first-ever jumbo feast!
To see Emma and Nina trumpet in joy with the feast prepared for them filled our hearts with gratitude for the two elephants. We were able to give them all the appreciation and love that was absent in their lives for so long. Seeing the pachyderms joyous reminded us of the need to resolutely tread the path leading to a world where man and animal live in harmony.
Our elephants enjoyed this special time in the company of their beloved companions. We had Emma accompanied by Maya and Phoolkali, who have been helping the novice elephant adjust to her new home. We also had ECCC’s iconic trio Bijli Chanchal and Laxmi gobbling up the mouth-watering feast together. Arya and Zara were close by, carefully picking out their favorite fruit, watermelon, from the wide assortment and devouring it before anyone else!
The rambunctious trumpets and rumbles of our female elephants managed to lure in our two solitary bull (male) elephants, Suraj and Rajesh, who joined in on the fun! Suraj gobbled up all the melons in no time, leaving no trace of their existence!
Our elephants have been rescued from the most brutal conditions, where they lived with no trace of love or appreciation. We are overjoyed to be able to provide them with long-overdue admiration and safekeeping.
India is home to over 50% of the Asian Elephant population, making our country a key stakeholder in conserving the elephant population. To find out about how you can help the Elephants of India, click HERE!