February 4, 2009
Posted: 02:37 PM ET
NEW YORK–I met my first elephant at the Central Park Zoo, when I was a very little girl and I was smitten. Over the years, I read all about them and went to the circus whenever it came to town. So imagine the thrill when, as an adult, I had the good fortune to see elephants in the wild.
A performer rides an elephant during a live perfomance of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
I have seen them feed. I've seen their burial rituals. I have even been charged by a mother elephant protecting her calf. Watch the Best Defense segment.
Through it all, here is what I have learned: Elephants are a lot like people. They have emotions of a sort. They remember things like we do. And they are social animals; they like the company of other elephants and of people too. But when all is said and done, they are not people. They are still elephants.
So we need to ask ourselves some hard questions about our relationship with them.
Of course, no animal should be abused. But as we put Ringling Bros. on trial, let's keep in mind that most kids in this country will never see an elephant in the wild. The only real elephants they will ever see will be in the zoo or at a parade - or at the circus. After all, that's where my love of these graceful creatures was born.
If we want our children to learn to love them too, we will need to make our peace with animals in captivity and with those who choose to work with them there.
–Jami Floyd, In Session anchor
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