I don’t know, but at least it gives me some reason to post about this amazing article on elephants in the NYTimes (very long, very worth it). Between social structure, funeral rites and reactions to psychological trauma, elephants, on top of being sublimely beautiful creatures, have so much more human-like complexity than I ever really thought to imagine.
However, due to poaching, culling and habitat loss, the intricate elephant social structure, which works like a tribal village, is breaking down. As a result, elephants, particularly those who witness the killing of a parent or other traumatic event, are starting to behave more and more like humans with post traumatic stress disorder and lashing out at captors.
As a Jew soon traveling to regions where transportation by domesticated elephants is not only a popular tourist activity, but in some cases, the only way to get somewhere, it raised certain ethical issues.
In Judaism, our relationship to animals is an important, albeit rarely discussed issue. If you want a good read on the subject from a Torah perspective I hear this one from controversial evolution-is-compatible-with-Judaism “Zoo Rabbi” Natan Slifkin is a good one.
The above photo is taken from an exhibit of The Nomadic Museum called Ashes and Snow. If it comes to an area near you, do not let anything keep you from seeing it.