By Cathy Kangas
As part of my work with animals I meet some extraordinary people. One of them is Carol Buckley, the Founder and Director of Elephant Aid International.
Carol has worked with elephants since she was a 19-year-old college student and brought a young elephant she called Tara from a car dealer in California who was using her as a promotional gimmick. She taught Tarra how to roller skate and created Tarra Productions. Tarra and Carol traveled to circuses around the country.
But one day she was confronted by a woman who thought Tarra was being mistreated because she was forced to roller skate. Carol began to reassess her relationship with Tarra. She founded the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee financed through the sale of her home in California. She realized that elephants are wild animals that don't belong in circuses or zoos. Tarra had a new home, and Carol a new cause -- protecting elephants.
Today, she works tirelessly on behalf of elephants around the world. Her latest crusade is to end the barbaric practice of chaining the legs of working elephants in Nepal. These poor creatures who work in fields, forests and in the busy streets of Nepal have their front legs chained together when they are not working, severely restricting their movements. They can't move or socialize with each other. Often they are stuck standing in their own waste. Their feet become deformed and painful from infected tissue. They exhibit abnormal rocking, bobbing and swaying behaviors. Many die sick and broken.
It is a testimony to Carol's work with elephants that the Nepalese government recently invited Elephant Aid International to create the country's first-ever chain-free corrals at Chitwan National Park, where 63 working elephants now live shackled in chains.
The project will cost $441,000 - $7,000 per corral. Elephant Aid International plans on building 63 corrals for 63 elephants. Each elephant gets a one-acre corral, which is interconnected, allowing elephants to socialize with each other. She needs to have the money in hand by February 1 so that the project can be completed before the chief warden of Chitwan, who has supported her efforts, leaves office.
Carol has already successfully implemented a pilot project in Nepal for chain-free corrals. She now needs to create 15 spacious, outdoor stables with 63 chain-free corrals using state-of-the-art, solar-powered fencing that will not harm the elephants. The elephants will have natural vegetation for shade and streams for bathing.
But best of all, the Nepalese government has promised that its goal is to make all working elephants chain-free. This is tremendous news because it will have an impact on all elephants currently in chains throughout Asia. It is an opportunity to change the lives of thousands of elephants.
We need to teach our children and grandchildren that elephants don't belong in circuses and zoos. They are wild animals. We do respect the fact that working elephants are vital to the economy of many poor nations. But that doesn't mean they can't be treated with care and respect.
I urge you to visit Carol's website. My company, PRAI Beauty is supporting the work of Elephant Aid International and I urge you to join me. You will not only guarantee the Nepalese elephants a better life -- you will be helping those who rely on these elephants for their livelihood.