What do you see in the first picture? This is a cute, fuzzy-wuzzy baby elephant , right? She’s frolicking in the surf at the beach, because all elephants love water, right? They love to splash and whip the water around with their trunks. They even roll around in water, loving the feeling of it on their skin. Even grown elephants do this, enjoying the coolness of the water and using it to clean and exfoliate their skin.


What? Elephants Don’t Like Being in the Ocean?

Did you know that elephants mostly avoid salt water, that they avoid it because they know instinctively that salt water will dry out their skin and leave them feeling uncomfortable (just like humans)? AND, did you know that most elephants don’t really live close to oceans?  African elephants prefer tropical forest habitats but also live in savannas, mountains and deserts throughout AfricaAsian elephants live in the tropical forests and grasslands of Southeast Asia.


Forced to “Play” in the Water

IN FACT, about the only time elephants are seen in the ocean is when humans have FORCED them there out of fear, for work, or for entertainment purposes. Rajan, who died at age 66, was the world’s last ocean swimming elephant who lived in the Bay of Bengal. Rajan, who weighed around four tons, once worked hard carrying lumber between islands but was retired just one year before his death. It took 10 years to train Rajan to carry lumber, a very long time to force this intelligent, sentient being to abuse himself in salt water, something that was against everything natural within him.

So, Why is this Baby Elephant Photographed Playing in Salt Water?

What about this baby elephant in the ocean (second picture)? Is she there because she wants to be? What do you suppose is going on just off camera?  Is her mother nearby? If so, why isn’t she pulling her baby from the water, teaching her that salt water is bad? Is there a man off camera collecting money from people who want to get a picture as he stands with a bullhook or some other implement of torture, continually forcing the baby into the water?  Is her mother chained or tethered to the ground and unable to help? Is her mother dying inside watching her baby’s skin become dry and parched?


You Can’t Always Believe What You See. Educate Yourself and Ask Questions to Stop Elephant Abuse

These are the kinds of questions around elephant abuse we should always ask when we see a wild baby animal in an unnatural surrounding.  We MUST open our eyes and our minds to what is happening right in front of us. We don’t have to be all-knowing, but we must have common sense and shared experiences that pull us in the right direction.


This is what we need to see. This is where baby elephants should be, in the wild.