It is difficult to imagine that people can sometimes treat animals with such brutality. It is a sad but true fact of life. The abuse that a number of animals, especially pet and trained working animals, suffer at the hands of their owners and handlers, is astounding. Such is the case of an elephant, that spent 73 years of its life undergoing a almost constant state of abuse, or varying degrees. Following is her story.
The question of why human abuse animals, at all is often asked by people who rescue said animals. Why would someone subject a living beast to such treatment, is often investigated. Nobody has, as yet, been able to answer this question.
It is perhaps because we feel superior to the animals somehow, due to our superior intellect and ability to master certain tasks with ease. It may also be because of an innate lack of patience, and an understanding of how a lesser beast thinks.
For as long as anyone can remember, human have been abusing animals, both pet animals and those we have tamed to aid with tasks. This has been going on since ancient times, and any animal we can think of that has come in contact with humans, has been abused at some point in time.
Elephants have historically been used as beasts of burden, to perform tasks that are too intricate, or too difficult for oxen and cattle. The majority of such usage has been in the far east and the former subcontinent, in India.
From pulling large wagons to lifting tree trunks to even carrying soldiers into battle, elephants have performed the toughest tasks imaginable. Their natural anatomy, and their prehensile trunks, which can be used like a large hand, has proved very useful.
Sook Jai, the elephant in focus, lived a similar life, in which she was used to both perform working tasks, as well as provide entertainment to trekkers looking for a ride up rough terrain. She has lived for 73 years of her life this way.
During her years, she had been abused a lot, and treated very roughly, with her handlers beating her and piercing her head with a bullhook. She also had several handlers, who all treated her to some degree of abuse.
Elephants are sometimes prone to physical disability, such as blindness and deafness, as they age. Since Sook Jai was so old, she too suffered partial blindness and deafness. Her abuse, which she suffered for most of her life, did nothing to ease her condition.
The bullhook is an implement used by elephant handlers to take control of the elephant. It is used just like the spurs of horsemen, to push the elephant ahead and to command it in terms of movement. Almost all the captive elephants go through this treatment.
Sook Jai had a number of injuries and scars on her head and sides, due to the abuse she suffered over the years. In fact, her head and frontal facial region looked like it had suffered a lot. The injuries had also become infected, which made matters worse.
When she was being rescued, the elephant could be seen to be visibly shaken and shifty. This was because she thought the process was another part of her abuse. She took a bit of time to move into the moving truck and a lot of coaxing to do so.
When she did finally manage to move, it was a sight to witness! She was visibly crying with joy when she realized her life has improved. She was happy and flailing her trunk with happiness. The Save Elephant Foundation made a conscious effort to provide a safe place.
Finally, when she moved into the new home, her life improved and she started to eat more. She was in a dilapidated state of health, which then began to improve. Since she was very old, her scars did not heal fully, but they became healed overall.
Sook Jai is now a happy elephant who spends the rest of their days wandering about, wading into the river, taking mud baths and scratching herself on all the trees around. She is free to go wherever she pleases in the enclosure.
The noble initiative taken by the organization needs to be taken more often, with other animals as well. This is to make sure wildlife gets treated the right way, and because we humans need to do justice to the animals we tame for our benefit.