By Liz Coates
Donning big flappy ears and curved tusks a Great Yarmouth woman is planning a mammoth fundraising event for elephants. For Sam Short of Northgate Street is set to walk 10 miles wearing the comical jumbo onesie – but for a serious cause.
So shocked was the animal management student on learning about the plight of captive elephants she immediately pledged to do something about it. Now the 21-year-old is raising money for Elephant Haven, an organisation that is hoping to build Europe’s first elephant retirement sanctuary in France.
Despite having worries about how local people would connect with a cause so far away she said the feedback had been phenomenal with the majestic mammals held in high affection by almost everyone she spoke to.
The walk is on February 19, starting at the seafront Imperial Hotel where Sam also works, trumpeting through the villages and ending up probably in Rollesby.
“The sanctuary will serve as a refuge for ailing circus elephants that are still beaten into submission to perform tricks in the name of entertainment, and also for elephants living in solitary confinement in zoos,” said Sam, who is a student at Easton College. “They long for the companionship of a herd and fall victim to an array of health issues including crippling foot abscesses as a result of the concrete floorings and limited movement areas.
“Females in particular only thrive in the wild when surrounded by close, bonded family groups and show signs of grief. It is just so unnatural for a female to be alone and after, in some cases, more than 30 years of agonising solitude the mental trauma these animals go through is hard to think about.
“I am asking people to sponsor my charity walk or log onto their website and make a donation there. It is time to give these elephants a chance to finally know what it is like to be an elephant.”
The charity has until the end of March to secure organic farmland and lush forest in France for European elephants who need a home to retire to and has launched a crowd-funding bid to help make its dream a reality.
Elephant Haven will see heated living quarters with six interior stables and access to at least five acres, lakes, woods and hills.
To find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01493 300444.