Moreover, I did not in the least want to shoot him.
I had got to shoot the elephant.
Once the calf is weaned from its mother’s milk at five or whenever its next sibling is born, it will spend up to 16 hours a day eating 5 percent of its entire weight in leaves, grass, brush, bark, and basically any other kind of vegetation. It will only process about 40 percent of the nutrients in this food, however; the waste it leaves behind helps fertilize plant growth and provide accessible nutrition on the ground to smaller animals, thus making the elephant a keystone species in its habitat. From 250 pounds at birth, it will continue to grow throughout its life, to up to 7 tons for a male of the largest species or 4 tons for a female.
But I did not want to shoot the elephant.
Of the many types of elephants and mammoths that used to roam the earth, one born today will belong to one of three surviving species: in Asia, (savanna elephant) or (forest elephant) in Africa. There are about 500,000 African elephants alive now (about a third of them the more reticent, less studied ), and only 40,000 – 50,000 Asian elephants remaining. The Swedish currently lists just under 5,000 (most of them ) living in captivity worldwide, in half as many locations — meaning that the average number of elephants per holding is less than two; many of them live without a single companion of their kind.
Orwell: Shooting an Elephant | Abagond
Most zoos are having a harder time letting go, a struggle exemplified by the 2004 attempt of Alaska Zoo officials to hang on to Maggie, the sole elephant in the state. Because of Alaska’s climate, Maggie had to spend up to ten months of the year standing around indoors in her concrete pen, isolated, cold, unhealthy, and bored silly. Amid calls for her removal to a warmer area and more appropriate living situation, zoo leaders instead decided to raise money to build her a $100,000 treadmill — which, after much fanfare at its installation, she could not be prevailed upon to use. Eventually they gave in, and in 2007 she was relocated to a sanctuary in California.
Do Elephants Have Souls? - The New Atlantis
A step or two back from this thicket, the primary question becomes whether it is morally defensible to keep elephants captive at all. Although they are the “keystone species” of zoos — by far the number one attraction demanded by the public — , in Philadelphia, Detroit, the Bronx, and elsewhere, have in the past few years bravely closed their elephant exhibits and sent the residents to a sanctuary, wildlife park, or other more suitable home, having reached the conclusion that they were unequipped to provide an ethically acceptable standard of living.