Protecting Elephants in Portland and Around the World!
The Free the Elephants Conference in Portland was held this year between April 26 and the April 29. It was presented by Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants (FOZE). In Defense of Animals was honored to be a sponsor and to participate in this conference, where over fifty elephant experts and advocates from as far as Asia, Zimbabwe and India gathered to engage and share powerful solutions for the protection of elephants. All were united in knowing that we must save elephants from extinction and that zoos and circuses will never be the solution!
Artists, scientists, attorneys, filmmakers, and elephant experts from around the world came together for a rare and multidisciplinary event. On the theme of personhood for elephants and other animals, our own Elephant Scientist, Dr. Toni Frohoff presented her talk, Elephants and Orcas as Stakeholders with Rights and Interests to Be Protected. Steven Wise, attorney with Nonhuman Rights Project, discussed the fight to gain legal rights for elephants in the US. based on establishing their status as “persons.”
Talks varied throughout the conference, highlighting the reality that liberation for elephants requires help on multiple fronts — legally, culturally, politically, and financially. Visual Artist Colleen Plumb presented her traveling video installation, 30 Times a Minute, titled to reflect the stress-related and obsessive stereotypic behaviors of elephants imprisoned in zoos. Sangita Iyer, who created the brilliant documentary film Gods in Shackles, discussed her expose working to end the horrors inflicted upon temple elephants who are used for festivals in India in the name of religion.
With a focus on legislation, Catherine Doyle with the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) shared strategies from the success of banning the bullhook in California. Another standout was Ever Vimbai Chinoda, an attorney from Zimbabwe with Speak out for Animals, where she legally advocates for, and trains others in, legal modalities to protect animals. Discussions ranged from protecting elephants from poaching and capture, as well as how to help heal captive elephants by sending them to sanctuaries.
Together, we will continue to work even more effectively to help the elephants who rely on us the most. We thank Courtney Scott and her team from Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants for creating such an insightful event. We promise to keep you in touch with future developments on how you can be more involved in elephant protection around the world. If you’re not yet signed up to get our alerts, please sign up here.