Updated: Jul 20
The Asian elephants are an endangered species (like most animals these days) their population has decreased an estimated 50 percent in the last 75 years. There are an estimated 20,000-40,000 left in their habitats.
Happy the Elephant, one of these asian elephants was born in the early 1970s, She was captured and sent to the Bronx Zoo in 1977 with her fellow elephant Grumpy. Sadly, Grumpy died in 2002 from fatal injuries sustained from fighting two other elephants. Now people are fighting to free Happy the 50 year old elephant from this uninhabitable cage in which they've had her locked up for most of her life.
Poverty, Trauma, Incarceration are some of the themes in this story, very similar to the things ive seen or experienced in my community. Grumpy dying from a fight reminds me of stupid and petty disputes people get killed over.
The Uninhabitable habitat Happy now lives in by herself is no different than the projects, than these “affordable” houses. Toxic environment, too small, no water, no heat, overgrown weeds, I can't tell the difference from a zoo and the houses our families live in.
Separation comes in many ways. We are taught how superior we humans are than all these other animals, as if we aint animals ourselves. We have Zoos were we go and just stare down at these abused “animals”. How is this different from the “studies” that were done to prove how white people are superior to black people? Our incarceration system ain't no different. Brothers and Sisters locked up in Rowed cages almost as display, while the guards mess with, laugh at and act as if they are superior.
Recently the advocates for Happy started a court case to free her and send her to an elephant sanctuary. The judge ended the case by declaring “Happy the Elephant is not a person”. Happy can feel pain, She can feel the sadness of losing her brother, She feels the isolation, she feels the dehydration. As I pull up pictures of her, one stands out. I see her standing in a concrete overgrown with weeds and a fence surrounds her. Looks almost as if she's inside one of these lots in Oakland. Her eyes are sunken, head down, focused on her task, her trunk wrapped around one of these weeds, trying to organize. She looks no different than our poor, housless and incarcerated elders.
We can't separate ourselves from our animal relatives. We all are living on the same earth. The same boat if it sinks we all drown. We are taught to live in our heads, in our lives, individualisation, i'm the main character everyone is the side character. People are Ignorant to their own actions because they constantly do them.
Free Happy the Elephant cause she clearly is anything but.