When you think of native animals of Kentucky, what comes to mind? Horses, maybe? Farm animals? Typical wild animals like bunnies, deer, and other woodland critters? I’m sure elephants don’t come to mind. The last time I checked, elephants weren’t listed as a native species of Kentucky. That’s why it’s so bizarre that the state is considering allowing elephants to be used as a kiddie ride in upcoming state fairs after a ban on the practice.
I’ll never understand the desire to ride an elephant. I believe my father took my sisters to do just that at a circus as a child, against my mother’s wishes. By that time, I was old enough to disapprove through my own will (and not just regurgitate my mother’s opinion), and didn’t go with the half of my family that did attend. These days, both of my sisters are also against the practice—but both of them where extremely excited about the prospect as children. I think my mother ended up teaching me quite a bit more about the horrors of the circus than she did with my sisters. To be fair, she had much more time with me as an only child for six years, and she had to go back to work during my sisters’ childhood.
This isn’t some magical experience for kids to relish and recall fondly later in life. In fact, my youngest sister barely remembers it, while my oldest sister only remembers it being awkward. The only being in the whole experience who probably was truly impacted by it was the poor elephant, who was dressed in an unnatural outfit and confined to do tricks and give rides—things it would never do in the wild. Allowing kids to think it’s harmless fun, however, only detracts from their education and serves to further harm the elephants, desensitizing children from the true nature of these massive, majestic animals.
We need to teach our children that other sentient beings need to be respected, even revered—not ridden like carnival attractions. That’s why those little bumper boats and spinning bears and “Scramblers” exist in the first place; those are the rides, not live creatures. Please call on the state of Kentucky today with me and ask that they keep elephants out of their list of rides during state fairs. Just click the link, fill out your information, and send your comments. It’s a quick and painless way to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.