Promoting the compassionate application of operant conditioning principles to improve the lives of captive elephants and their caretakers by fostering relationships built on mutual trust, respect, and freedom of choice.
Captive. The implications of this word trouble us all. In a perfect world, the term 'captive elephant' wouldn’t even exist. Elephants would be able to live out their lives in the wild, while we proceed with our human lives in harmonious coexistence. Luckily there are legions of wonderful people and organizations out there who are working towards this lofty goal. I wholeheartedly support them and contribute in any way I can, as this is my ultimate goal, too. Although there’s loads of work to be done, this vision is certainly attainable, and also essential for both elephants’ and our own survival.
I don’t have to tell you that, unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world...yet. Captive elephants are a fact of life, in all parts of the world. Whether they are a working elephant, in a zoo, or in a sanctuary with acres of land, the fact remains that they are indeed captive elephants. As much as we’d love to simply release them all into the wild, with the exception of a few special circumstances this just isn’t a reality for most at this time. There are a multitude of reasons for this, the primary one being there isn't enough wild to release them into, something those wonderful people and organizations mentioned earlier are working hard to correct.
As of now, captive elephants are an unavoidable reality. The good news is, the term ‘captive elephant’ isn’t always synonymous with ‘miserable elephant.’ I know this because I’ve seen it with my own two eyes, experienced it with my own elephant loving heart. There are thousands of ways we can provide elephants living in captivity with the physical, mental, and emotional care they need. We can create environments that allow as much freedom of choice as possible. There are bounteous ways to work with elephants as partners, rather than slaves. It will take a long time to clean up the mess we’ve made. Until the day comes when we can live peacefully alongside wild elephants, it is our duty to do the best we possibly can by them.
My heartfelt thanks for your support.
Executive Director, Elephation
Chrissy Pratt has been an animal trainer and behaviorist for 18 years. She has worked with a variety of animals, and has consulted with elephant organizations all over the world, including Save Elephant Foundation in Thailand, Wild is Life/Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery in Zimbabwe, Tiger Tops Elephant Camp in Nepal, Pakke Tiger Reserve in India, and Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand.
Chrissy is passionate about all animals, fascinated by their behavior, and deeply committed to their conservation. Elephants captured her heart as a young child and never let go. Her favorite part of being a positive reinforcement trainer is getting to know each elephant on a personal basis. Every relationship is as unique and extraordinary as the elephants themselves, and she is continually astounded by all they have to teach her.
Chrissy is infinitely grateful to all her mentors; two legged, four legged, sometimes three legged, winged, clawed, finned, flippered, furry, scaly, bristly, and smelly. This of course includes the human variety, all the selfless teachers, friends, family, mahouts (traditional elephant caregivers,) communities, and steadfast supporters who have made it possible to live her dream and give her hope for this beautiful world.
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