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  • Writer's pictureDiana McDaniel Hampo

Irene The Elephant

This is not a happy post.

In the late 80s or early 90s Jack and Mary were between 2 and 4 years old. We lived in the Florida Keys. One day we went to a tiny circus in Marathon or Islamorada.

I don't remember anything about the icky, dumpy circus but I do remember we were able to ride on an elephant, all together. Her name was Irene.

As far as elephants go she wasn't big, but she didn't seem to mind us sitting up there. The trainer lead her forward and kept wacking her on the back of her left front leg, "move up Irene, move up." There was a massive, ugly callus on the back of her leg and he just kept hitting her with a bamboo or metel rod. She was walking, there was no reason to strike her over and over and over. "Move up Irene, move up."

When we climbed down all three of us were miserable. What a horrible and sad adventure. Jack, Mary and I held hands and watched the next family climb up and the process started all over again. And there were still so many famalies in line.

Two or three weeks or months later, I read a news story. An elephant named Irene, in a small circus had gone on a rampage, hurting or killing several. The children riding Irene were hurt but not killed. Irene was killed.

This morning, thirty years later, I sat on our deck and wondered if I remembered the story correctly. Memories are generally off and our brains fill in the blanks. Was her name really Irene?

After ten minutes on my laptop I found Irene and her scummy little circus. During the late 80s and early 90s there were lots of elephant attacks. Elephants knocked a handler down and sat on him, crashed into bleachers filled with famalies, even crushed a handler with the top of his head.

And who could blame them? Good for you, Irene, you found a way out.

Then I started thinking, all animals kill, that's nature's way. But humans are, I believe the only creatures who capture and torture, for years and years. We do it to other humans and all kinds of animals. And we think it is our right. From research facalities to slavery and genicide, there seems to be no end to appetite for cruelty.

I bet this makes God really sad. He gave us this beautiful little green and blue planet, filled with wonderous creatures and what have we don't with these gifts. What have we become?

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