May 30: Satao, 45-46: One of Africa’s last ‘great tuskers,’ Satao had tusks weighing over 100 pounds. He was found poisoned to death by poachers in Kenya. For years he adapted his behavior, hiding himself from humans. Likely born in the 60s, Satao succumbed to wounds from poison darts in a remote corner of Tsavo National Park where he had migrated to find fresh water after recent storms. Poachers hacked his face and tusks off. His four legs splayed where he fell with his last breath, left only for the vultures and the scavengers. Conservationists told how he moved from bush to bush, always keeping his ivory hidden among the foliage. Conversationists warn that elephant poaching “is at least 10 times the official figures.”
Nov. 18: Annie, 55: Asian Elephant, born in Assam, India in 1960 and taken from her mother at a very young age for use in the zoo industry, Annie was housed at the Milwaukee County Zoo where she was cruelly trained. While held by ropes and chains, handlers “broke” her, mercilessly beating her into submission. There is actual video of this; the zoo recorded it as a training session for other keepers. Under public pressure, the zoo opted to relocate Annie, along with Tammy, another elephant from the Milwaukee County Zoo, to PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society). Annie, because of her mistreatment, endured severe arthritis and foot disease, which worsened over many years. She was humanely euthanized on November 18, while lying on soft soil and surrounded by those who cared for and loved her. At 55, she was among the oldest Asian elephants in North America.
Both of these stories brought tears to my eyes. The picture of Satao, with his hacked off face and tusks was one of the most horrible I’ve seen. When I received the PAWS Newsletter and the information about Annie and read that she had been cruelly trained at the Milwaukee County Zoo, a place I used to support, I was outraged. When I saw the video they had made, I was ashamed that I ever given them a dime. I’m hoping that when others read about Annie, and the horrible life she and Tammy had there, it will keep others from supporting the Milwaukee County Zoo in the future.
The world lost two magnificent elephants in 2014. One to poachers and another to past cruel treatment that happened right here in the United States. For more information on PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society) and the good they do, go to http://www.pawsweb.org/