an experiment in providing freedom

Today Suparna Ganguly of CUPA (Compassion Unlimited Plus Action — http://www.cupabangalore.org/), a member of EAI’s Advisory Council, and I started on a fabulous adventure to the Dubare National Park. An adventurous young woman lives there, who is conducting an experiment to reintroduce captive elephants back to forest life.

Nearly nine years ago, Prajna Chowta and filmmaker husband Philippe Gautier, founders of the Aane Mane Foundation (www.aanemane.org), received government clearance to conduct their research project in Dubare National Park.

Prajna explained that only after she was able to secure a piece of land inside the communal forest did she purchase two female elephants, for the purpose of documenting that rehabilitation and reintroduction is possible.

She and Philippe built a very modest and functional research site on the edge of the national forest. This site has potential for research beyond what Prajna and Phillip are conducting, with room for one or two dedicated individuals whose work would also benefit elephants and the habitat.

Local tribals are employed as mahouts to assist with the care and monitoring of the elephants. Prajna and her family, which includes her four-year-old daughter, have purposefully chosen to live close to the land and in a manner that resembles that of the local people. By accepting the local way of living, they are able to form close relationships that will benefit their work and the welfare of the elephants.

Since the project started, one of the cows was bred by a wild bull and delivered a bull calf. All three spend their days and nights in the forest. Much of that time they are found in the company of wild elephants. Prajna is taking the reintroduction slowly, being completely cognizant of the human/elephant conflict in the area, which could have an impact on the welfare of the project elephants. The immediate plan is to purchase radio collars for the elephants in order to track them unobtrusively.

I am grateful for the time Prajna and Philippe spent explaining their program and discussing the challenges, pitfalls and successes. Their work will continue to provide vital information about rehabilitation and reintroduction of captive elephants into a wild environment.

Menaka missed her pedicure appointment

Today I was supposed to give Menaka a pedicure to address two problem areas on her front feet.
I met Menace in India last May. At that time she was living at the Bangalore Zoo, having recently been confiscated by the government from a temple. She was thin, nervous and a bit aggressive, and her feet did not look good.

Menaka no longer lives at the zoo, which is good news. Instead, she resides at the wildlife rehab center run by CUPA, which happens to be next door to the zoo. She is not on exhibit, which suits her well, but still receives the fringe benefits, such as spending the night loose in the forest with the zoo’s related herd of elephants.

When I visited Menaka a few days ago, I didn’t recognize her. She was calm, her weight was good and her feet were on the mend. We set an appointment for today to trim her feet but I just got an unexpected phone call. All of the elephants, including Menaka, had not returned from the forest but instead were hanging out with a herd of wild elephants. Imagine the director of a US zoo receiving such a call from his lead elephant trainer telling him the elephants would not be on exhibit as planned due to their gallivanting with wild cousins.

I could not be happier about the pedicure cancellation. Foot care can be done anytime; hanging out with your wild friends definitely takes precedent!

for the elephants

I wish you could have been here to experience the exhilarating tour we took of “the land.” Hiking the forest, we found wild elephant dung and massive foot prints near a large pond, and a deep ditch designed to keep the wandering tuskers out.

As the sun began to descend we were driven to the top of a rock mountain. It was spectacular. The view was endless, the horizon hidden behind multiple layers of sprawling mountains. In the valley below, tiny billows of smoke spiraled up into the soft blue sky from fires set by villagers along the periphery of the park boundary, a sad reminder of the challenges of survival faced by humans and wildlife who reside so close together.

Nearby stood a towering metal observation platform with the perfect impression of a wild elephant’s head in the steel upright support. Without doing further damage the bull left his mark, an “I was here” signature.

Lizards scurried over the massive rock mountain top where stone graves remain, mostly intact, from an earlier time. From this vantage point the entire property could be viewed, giving a greater comprehension of the layout of the land. Then it started to rain — so very refreshing. As we left the forest I began to see it from the elephant’s perspective, vast, wild and private — home.

As we sat on the veranda talking, the sun set, the birds quieted and the glorious storm continued. We spoke of a wonderful project to create a safe and healthy place for captive elephants, a care center that will benefit a few individuals and serve as a model for improved elephant welfare for India’s precious elephants living in captivity.

Sri Lanka condensed

Feb 19

I am on a plane leaving Sri Lanka with my head spinning and heart smiling. This gem of a country has its challenges when it comes to both wild and captive elephant management but the people I met during my short stay give me hope. Friendly and dynamic, the people I met are dedicated and hungry to succeed in their effort to create safe and healthy environments for elephants.

These past nine days have been well spent. Not a moment was wasted as guardians appeared at every turn to direct and assist me. Looking back, I realize how truly blessed I am. Many thanks to all of the kind and dedicated people who made my visit productive and memorable, especially on such short notice!

This visit was to be a simple fact-finding mission to experience first-hand the elephant situation in Sri Lanka. Prior to my visit I heard so much about the dwindling wild populations, crowded orphaned calf facilities and elephant/human conflict. Honestly, I knew little about Sri Lanka’s efforts to rehabilitate and release previously orphaned calves and to fence in a multi-thousand acre national park area for problem (crop raiding) bulls. Sri Lanka has many seriously progressive people working on elephant welfare.

Elephant culture in Sri Lanka is ancient; elephants are a part of everyday life for many, from community festivals when elephants are dressed in lavish costumes and paraded through the streets on chains, to the simple farmer who is in direct conflict with crop raiding “wild ones.” Like most other Asian countries, elephants are big business. They are used in festivals, at temples, in processions and in many other public venues. They are money makers. Unfortunately, traditions that involve financial gain can lead to corruption.

On the first day of my visit I went to the Colombo Zoo. It is a beautiful botanical garden, very well laid out, with lush vegetation and mature trees. With such obvious attention paid to the design of the zoo, I was surprised to find the elephants standing side-by-side under a shade structure, chained on two legs. It was a difficult sight to see in such contrast to the surrounding beauty.

Next I went to see the elephants at the Pinnewala orphanage. I was saddened to find so many elephants in a small barren area. Large males were kept beyond the public area, chained on two legs on concrete. All the others were in an open area, which offered no shade from the blazing sun, while tourists were invited to have their picture taken with them.

The following morning I visited the Millennium Foundation, just down the road from Pinnewala. It is a privately owned elephant facility that is currently home to several elephants. Most are not permanent residents and, when not on grounds, appear in pageants and at temples. There is a beautiful stream that runs through the property where the elephants are bathed daily. Tourists and volunteers help scrub the elephants and are allowed to ride them without a saddle. The grounds are gorgeous and elephants are kept in the shade, which was a nice change from the Pinnewala, but they still spend their lives in chains.

It was after meeting with the government vets, Dee from Born Free Foundation and National Park staff that I saw another side of elephant management. The government has two projects that stand out: the Elephant Transit Home and an elaborate bull fence area in one of the National Parks. These established projects, with their successes and challenges, create a model for wild elephant management.

The Elephant Transit Home is a brilliant project. Open to the public in the most minimal way, the ETH provides a home to orphaned calves calves until several individuals form a bonded group, at which time they are released and monitored in the national park. The extent of keeper interaction is restricted to when the calves are bottle-fed every three hours. Their days are spent in the forest and they are tied by one back leg with a rope overnight. It would be fabulous if the calves could be allowed to be untethered overnight but limited space requires that they be secured. It was heartbreaking to see so many orphans, but they appeared healthy and content with their circumstances.

Later we drove into the park and were fortunate to observe one of the released herds of orphans wallowing in a mud hole. This group is of particular interest because one of the females recently gave birth and is raising a healthy baby girl. This is definitely a model project with a happy ending.

I’d heard much about the Bull Pen, a 5500-acre area within a national park, enclosed with electric fence for “problem bulls.” We drove deep into the park to look at the fence. When I saw it I had to laugh, remembering when we were trying to build a Flora-proof fence.

Working systematically a few steps behind us, Flora would figure out how to dismantle anything we erected. It seems the Park’s bulls are taking the same approach. It is frustrating right now, but in the end the bulls will be instrumental in designing their own pen, one that can be used as a model in other national parks.

I was most impressed by many of the wildlife officers, vets, NGO representatives and others I met who appear united in the goal to keep wild elephants wild. I feel quite fortunate to be invited to collaborate with these dedicated men and women. My hope is that their progressive attitudes and current projects will bring Sri Lanka much deserved recognition and the confidence to effectively address the serious welfare needs of their captive elephants.

out in the field

I am in Sri Lanka, more fabulous experiences, elephant related of course. I realize my internet access will be slim to none over the next few days and want to wish Tarra a Happy 37th Birthday.

Namaste my sweet girl,
Carol

leaving Elephant’s World and Jon

Sitting in the passenger seat of the bright orange son tough (vehicle), the solo passenger bouncing down the dusty road, I left Elephant’s World. The tornado of emotion swirling inside made me dizzy, happy, sad, thankful, torn, already longing for the family I am leaving behind.

The last three days have been trying. Jon is in detention. He is fighting against the restraints of control being put upon him. Being as respectful as possible, I have made every effort to find common ground with management and the mahouts in order to ensure that Jon receive proper care during this critical time. They are not beating him, nor being overtly cruel, but they are punishing him by tightening the reins of control and reducing his freedom. They are mirroring their forefathers, who taught that disobedience results in punishment, which in this case requires deprivation.

Today was especially hard because I knew I was leaving. I felt I had failed Jon and the mahouts, and struggled for inspiration. I spent time observing the elephants in the morning. We were alone — the mahouts had gone to collect fodder and there were no tourists on grounds. I found myself melting into the elephants’ rhythm. It took no effort to feel their boredom, their thirst and their hunger. Their resignation hung heavy in the air.

In a near meditative state I found myself thinking about the mahouts and their families, living in their simple bamboo huts. Laundry hanging on bamboo rods to dry in the open air. Breathtakingly colorful violets draped from the rickety porch shaded by scraps of shade cloth. I thought about this for a long time. I tried to feel how it would feel to live here, to be here, to know nothing else. Would I yearn for something different? Do they yearn for something else? Or are they content, surrounded by their families and friends and their elephants?

Drawn back to the massive gods chained in front of me, I wondered if my need to help them resulted from an unrealistic personal projection, or could it be that they too recognize the lack of freedom of choice they live with day after day. The peaceful river flowed nearly silent on one side of me, while tethered elephants simply existed on the other. On the river side, life is abundant, rich with texture and color, teaming with bugs, darting birds, the swirling current and the wind. On the other side, a colorless one-dimensional backdrop of dust covered half dead trees rooted in a barren carpet of dehydrated earth devoid of vegetation did nothing to enhance the elephants, who were deep in the escape they have mastered, nearly void of life from being left on chains for nearly every hour of every day. They don’t even sway — they just breathe, hardly existing.

Being kept on chains creates a disconnect that cuts an elephant off from the natural world and, as result, their own nature. They look so out of place. Watching them, I’m sure the elephants know the difference between here and their real home, and they realize that the choice is not theirs. Some rebel, some accept and others go insane. I wonder if the mahouts ever feel this way.

Piza knew I was sad about leaving with Jon still incarcerated. Over the past three days, I asked about Jon’s food, water and chain-free time at every opportunity. Piza was always polite and kind and explained the current plan as best he could.

I had delayed my departure to the very last moment so I could see the elephants in the river one last time. I heard a familiar playful voice call out to Jon and spun around in its direction. I couldn’t believe it — Jon was running full speed ahead, hobbled, with drag chain trailing behind, making a beeline for the river and the other elephants. He was a whirlwind of energy, like a tornado, spinning rapidly while steadily moving forward. Piza had intentionally released Jon for the river, standing a few feet behind, wearing that “I love Jon, too” grim that stretches across his entire face.

I was overjoyed. What a sight Jon was, running FAST, glancing back at Piza every few seconds to make sure he was not being followed too closely. He was ready for this mad dash to the river; he had waited all day for it. My heart burst seeing the look on Jon’s face: he was ecstatic, about to explode with excitement. He did not slow as he approached the river and nearlycreated a tidal wave when he plowed into the water at full speed.

I looked at Piza. He had a cheeky look on his face and I realized that he had allowed Jon to go to the river for me. Piza knows how deeply I want Jon to have some freedom and I am eternally grateful that he created the situation where my last memory of Jon was watching him play with full abandon.

In the river, the scene was “watch out elephants and mahouts-on-elephants, Jon is here!” He flew into the water, eyes intense, wild in anticipation. He ran, hopped, swam and play-charged the other elephants. He literally dove into the water doing a sideways body slam not holding back an ounce of his boundless energy — he was on fire. The mahouts were on guard, but they were happy that Jon was able to experience a moment of fun as well.

Later, speeding down the paved highway toward the Kanchanaburi bus station, I found myself grateful for my time at Elephant’s World even as I pondered the plight of elephants worldwide. Can we help them? Is it possible to give them their lives back? I am optimistic because to fail them is not an option.

Because of this, I know I will go back to Elephant’s World. Not because it is a progressive facility where elephants’ needs are met first and foremost — quite the contrary. I will go back to help Elephant’s World reach these goals. They have good intentions and I believe that in the future EW will be an organization that I will proudly endorse. I will go back to help EW make a better life for Jon, for all of his elephant family and for the mahouts. This is my Kanchanaburi family and I will not forget them.

I am thankful for Jon, Piza and all the mahouts. I am especially thankful for all of you who made my unscheduled stay at Elephant’s World possible by your generous support. My life is enriched daily and today I feel like a billionaire.
Namaste

A fabulous progress report

Please read for yourself how well Chang Yim is doing. Indeed, he is a most amazing individual and credit must be given to Karl as well, because without his depth of understanding and motivation to better his life, Yim’s brillance would be stiffled under a cloak of dominance. Together the two are brillant!

In Karl’s words…….To the irrepressible Chang Yim! For a while now I have had his training sessions divided into pure target training from outside his pen, first thing in the morning, and a more freeform adaptation in the late afternoon, inside his pen. The morning sessions are for reinforcing already learned behaviours and for introducing new ones, and works better at this time as he is sometimes a little edgier in the mornings after a long night cooped up, and itching to get out to run and eat. So far it is working as well, or better really, than I had even hoped, and still the main problem I am facing is keeping everything moving at a pace quick enough to ensure he doesn’t become disinterested. It would really help my cause if he were a little slower on the uptake, like myself, but alas, he is sharp as a tack!! For the morning sessions, his bahaviours include; presenting all feet, front and back and left or right by request, and holding them in place until I release them, and we are currently working on him presenting feet both forwards for nail trimming, (which he has down pat) and tucked up so that the pad is exposed, as well as conditioning him to having them touched all over; presenting and holding in place his ears so that blood can be drawn -soon I will start pricking the vein with something sharp so he becomes used to the sensation of the needle; presenting his side so that he can be brought in line; presenting his tail so that any work around his back end can be done without worry about a tail that will become like a baseball bat when he is older, as well of course in case of any injury to his tail; placing his head at the target and holding in place so he can be held still and brought to where you need him; presenting his shoulder, again for the purpose of positioning; touching the target with his trunk, but he hasn’t quite got to the holding it in place point yet and still sees this as the fun point where he gets to whack the target when he’s feeling like he wants to (for which he doesn’t get the treat of course and he has improved greatly on this). The rest of the behaviours he really has nailed.

And so in the afternoon training we do all these same bahaviours, but in free contact inside the pen, and with two different sized tree stumps for feet presentations. Added to that we do coming to me, stopping in place, backing up until I whistle to stop, opening mouth for teeth examination (and to let him know how his breath smells as he is quite self-conscious about that, but he’d hate me mentioning that), turning, and we are working on grabbing and letting go of objects. For the most part, at these sessions I don’t use the target as he knows what I am asking for now, but I keep it tucked into my training pouch (sidenote: my first training pouch disappeared a couple of days ago, annoyingly, but the replacement has made up for the disappointment as it has a pouch on both sides of the belt making it easier to use either hand, and has slots that the target fits into perfectly allowing me to keep it at hand but out of his reach. Perfect!) and use it as needed which gives a good flow to the whole process. Added to that I have now started to add hand signals to the behaviours already learned, and it seems to be working well. I haven’t yet tried a behaviour with only hand signal and no command – there’s no rush after all – but he is definitely starting to make the connection, and getting him thinking has engaged him more again.

So in all, I couldn’t be happier with how he has been going in that. Frustratingly though, despite requesting otherwise, the mahouts seem to be undertaking their own training, and at the moment it seems that they all want to be Yim’s mahout, constantly stepping in on me, and always trying to get him to “do things” which really convolutes the whole process; but I am resigned to ploughing on and trusting that Yim will be able to make the divide between the two. And it seems that he can. It’s funny, as when I started 4 months ago it seemed not many were wanting to put their hand up to be Yim’s mahout, but now it’s all hands on deck. Although for many of the mahouts outside of the family group it is still a matter of taking cover whenever he gets close; but not so much for good reason anymore. Yim has been, for some time now, on his absolute best behaviour, very calm and responsive. (There is one mahout in the group that he takes every chance to go after, but I agree with him, so I’ll turn a blind eye to that for now). I am almost waiting for the next time he blows up; but he just hasn’t for weeks now -knocking on wood as I type! I had a strange thought the other day that if he doesn’t have an “episode” for a long time then will it be worse when it happens as I wont be expecting it!! What a stupid thought, right? Why can’t it be always like this? I mean, there are still disagreements, but we always seem to reach a decision that we can both live with – or else we just go with mine. (I would insert one of those winking smiley faces here, like this , but this isn’t a text message, so I wont).

powerful lessons

What I have witnessed over the past 24 hours has been both heart wrenching and illuminating. Change is indeed the only constant we can depend on. Learning seems to come in a consistent formula — two steps forward, one step back and, at other times, giant leaps in either direction. But one thing is for sure: any suggestion that the process of life’s lessons moves in a linier direction is illogical.

Yesterday afternoon as Piza was bringing Jon back from his morning foraging, they met up with another mahout carrying an armful of freshly cut produce. Jon was interested in the food but was told that he could not have it. In an instant, his cooperative attitude flipped to rage.

Piza recognized the flare in Jon’s eye as a signal that he was about to act aggressively toward the other mahout. When Jon moved toward the food, Piza, working upon instinct and his dominance-based training, struck Jon across the leg with the handle of his hook. Jon’s reaction was instantaneous and life threatening: he turned on Piza.

I was not present but was told that Jon first kicked Piza with his front foot and then swung his head, knocking Piza down. What came next was pure instinct on Jon’s part, the wild bull in him still smoldering below the surface. He lunged toward Piza, who was attempting to regain his footing and put distance between him and the outburst. Blinded by his rage, Jon tried to pin him under his tiny tusks. Piza escaped with a few bruises, but no broken bones or internal injury, and a deeper knowledge and respect for Jon’s nature.

This behavior was not new for Jon; in fact, it is why Elephant’s World invited me to come and work with him. Jon arrived at EW only two months ago and no one seemed surprised by this most recent outburst.

With Piza rushed to the hospital for x-rays, the other mahouts were left to secure Jon on his chain. What followed was not the scene I expected. The mahouts worked calmly,systematically, and I must admit, quite humanely. Jon remained defiant, a cover for his fear of what he assumed the mahouts would do to him once he was recaptured. He avoided their attempts to get him to cooperate, which of course made things a little tense.

The mahouts were calm and patient, and watchful for their own safety. Jon was given every opportunity to cooperate but we all understand why he was apprehensive. He is a wild male elephant living in a human’s world facing the greatest challenge thrust on anyone — denying his nature.

The mahouts surrounded Jon. At no time did he fully submit, but he finally resigned himself to the fact that he was outnumbered. The leg shackles he had worn when I first arrived, the long drag chain and nail-tipped bamboo poles, were reinstated. Jon had no choice but to acquiesce. Deep inside I know that Jon is smart enough to figure out his lot in this life, that the best thing he can do for himself is to find his strength in cooperation rather than defiance.

When I asked the mahouts if they felt Jon’s new training had contributed to his aggressive outburst, they said no and appeared genuinely surprised by the suggestion. They spoke of Jon’s actions as an emotional outburst of anger as opposed to a conscious choice simply to be defiant. They clearly saw that Jon had a temper tantrum when he did not get the food he wanted and were completely comfortable recognizing and acknowledging that Jon is an emotional being.

Modern science is slowly accepting what astute mahouts have known for centuries: elephants are highly intelligent and emotional beings. One mahout spoke for the rest when he said that they were happy I was working with them because the elephants seem, in his words, happier.

This morning I waited until the mahouts were off-grounds collecting food for the elephants before going to check on Jon. He did not act particularly emotional. He did not appear fearful, angry or despondent. He was not exhibiting stereotypical behavior, but did appear hungry. Although I do not concur, I do understand that the mahouts’ method of dealing with Jon’s attack includes withholding or reducing food. This method is not limited to Asia; it is used by some elephant trainers in the US today.

For nearly one hour I watched Jon, without focusing too much energy on him. Tears streamed down my face at his fate, wild and captive. I wondered if there is anything we can do to make the injustice of that reality right again. With no safe wild left to elephants, it is up to us to create an alternative, one that protects and respects this species that so many of us are drawn to.

I will admit to being relieved that in the hour I observed Jon he never engaged in stereotypical behavior or acted stressed. He was not angry and did not even display signs of being confused. He was not despondent, he was resigned. And, thankfully, he was relaxed enough to play. A large rope had been wrapped around the tree he was chained to. Jon flipped the rope over his neck and wiggled his head back and forth, tugging on the rope playfully with his ears. I heard a huge sign leave my body; I don’t know how long I had been holding my breath.

As I left Jon, I could not help but ponder the dilemma humans have created for our planet and her inhabitants. Deep in thought, I realized that an EW staff member was waving her arms trying to get my attention. Looking in the direction she was pointing, I saw Jon in the banana plantation, happily reaching for the highest leaf and, with much gusto, tearing it loose and stuffing it into his mouth.

I assumed that Jon had slipped his chain. I decided to try to head him off by getting to the food hut first and loading up on his favorite treat. I felt confident that if I could drop a trail of bananas, I could get him to follow me back to his stable area.

When I got to the hut I was surprised to see Piza casually lounging in one of the flimsy plastic chairs, watching the DVD I had given him of “All Our Girls so Far.” I hesitated for a moment, so pleased he was watching the video of my girls, but realized I must interrupt him with the news of Jon.

With my best body language yet, arms flailing and in ridiculous broken English — yes, broken English. That’s what happens when everyone you talk with speaks broken English. You begin to speak like them! — I told Piza about Jon being loose. He smiled and said it was okay. I thought perhaps Piza had suffered a concussion and didn’t understand what I was saying — that Jon was loose! — but a huge grin spread across his face again, and I understood.

Even though Piza had told me last night that Jon would be kept on chains for up to three days, he had decided that Jon was ready for a degree of freedom. It was then that I remembered that Piza had said Jon would be kept on chains until he was no longer angry. I had seen for myself earlier in the day that Jon was not angry. Piza was true to his word and, as a result, Jon was having a feast in the banana forest.

Once I understood that all was well and Jon was no longer being punished, I turned to thank Piza. When our eyes met I felt deep admiration for this young man. He has such love and respect for Jon. In my heart I know that these two are matched souls, brothers from another time. They are meant to teach each other and the world about what it means to be held captive, because the mahouts are no less captive to the elephants than the elephants are to them. Let’s dream that together Jon and Piza will make a new world for captive elephants.

Jon and Piza

Feb 6
Today we experienced a major breakthrough with Jon’s training…I passed the training target over to Piza.

Oh man, was it hard to stand back and let Piza make mistakes and see Jon struggle with the resulting frustration, but it was time. Jon kept coming towards me, soliciting my interaction, but I had to return him to Piza. It was time for the game to be something the two of them share.

Jon finally accepted the change and fully engaged with Piza. I clearly saw that they will invent their own version of the training game, which will serve them well.

The game is as much about a philosophy as it is about technique. I understand that this type of training will not replace the customary training in Asia, at least not any time soon. But it is a therapy that can help strengthen the trust and bond between mahout and elephant.

I see now that the training game has the power to heal the deep emotional wounds caused by traditional training, which serves to break the elephant’s spirit. Piza’s love and respect for Jon has grown tremendously over the past few days and the trust and respect returned by Jon is obvious in the way he relates to Piza. Their budding relationship is a gift to behold. Jon’s broken heart is healing. Even thought young Piza might not be aware of the depth of what is happening, he is filled with joy and a fatherly pride in Jon.

Khan Kluay update

I just received an email from Lucy Clark of WFFT, one of Khan Kluay’s target training partners. Lucy says,

“Brilliant Bam is more brilliant than ever! We just had the most wonderful session with him. There were no people around, and it was all very calm. He did everything I asked perfectly, including walking back. I’m so proud of him! I feel like me & him are friends now. His eyes are so different, and he seems so content with my company. It’s a wonderful feeling! Laurene & I are absolutely ecstatic. Carol, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us. You’ve opened up a whole new world to me, and I feel really blessed to have met you. You have truly enriched the lives of the elephants here, and I look forward to keeping you updated on the progress of them all.”