Baby Elephant Transcends Zoo Concerns

Duncan Baby Elephant

Elephants are amazing animals. I was just reading about them on Wikipedia. They are, for example, one of the few animals to recognize themselves in the mirror. They also fashion objects into tools. For example, “An Asian elephant has been observed modifying branches and using them as flyswatters.” And they seem to feel emotion. Of course, whenever such a claim is made, some scientists start ranting about how we are anthropomorphizing them. This strikes me as very small minded and completely at odds with Darwin. After all, we didn’t get our emotions in a vacuum.

Given all of this, I do wonder about how much we interact with elephants. I’m definitely not keen on circuses and other performing elephants. And at this point, I really don’t know what I think about zoos. On the one hand, elephants don’t seem to live quite as long in captivity as they do in the wild. What’s more, living in a zoo has got to be pretty boring. I’m really not sure that is a life worth living. On the other hand, I’m still scarred from watching an elephant killed by a pride of lions in Planet Earth.

Regardless, it is hard not to be totally enchanted by the news from Texas, Houston Zoo Welcomes 400-Pound Baby Boy Elephant. He is named Duncan and is the son of Shanti, who was in labor only three minutes.[1] This is Shanti’s fourth child in captivity. According to zoo director Rick Barongi, “She’s just a great, perfect mom. Very attentive.”

The wonderful picture above is of Duncan as he learns how to make his 385-pound body walk. It is very hard to be cynical about this birth. Happy birthday Duncan!


[1] Note to God: you must really hate female humans to put them through the terrible birthing process you do. This is why I don’t believe that (If you exist at all!) you are a loving God. You are a total jerk.

H/T: Digby

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