Elephant in Bangkok

Here’s another example of how your photos can haunt you. I took these shots in Bangkok in 1987 when suddenly at the guest house where I was staying an elephant appeared.

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I had some awareness of the suffering of animals. For instance, there was a very pregnant dog who hung around our guest house hoping for handouts and I took it upon myself to feed her until she disappeared to give birth. But it didn’t occur to me that an elephant in the crowded city had to be a most terrible cruelty and instead I was, like everyone, blown away by its size and proximity.

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And I paid to have a ride on it and added the experience to my growing list of adventurous escapades.  I used to describe to people how the elephant lifted me up with its foot, the feel of its ear that I gripped while being raised up, described how miraculous it felt to be sitting on this elephant’s back while it walked the Bangkok street.

I did not connect to its suffering until many years later.


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