Born Free USA Blog about 5 Elephants

‘E’ Is for Elephants… and Education!

By Adam Roberts.   Published 08/14/14

Rob Laidlaw, a friend and long-time colleague, just published a book called “5 Elephants”: another accessible and important written plea for compassion. “5 Elephants” goes beyond the typical facts and figures about the species, and tackles the grave challenges faced by elephants, both wild and captive—and follows the stories of five well-known elephants to encourage the reader to care about these animals as individuals. Rob covers everything you could ever want to know about elephants—from their physicality, to their ranges, to their personal histories, to their challenges—all in plenty of detail, to educate and entertain. (And, besides being wonderfully readable, I thoroughly enjoyed the stunning photography.)

One of my favorite aspects of “5 Elephants” is that Rob familiarizes the reader with the organizations and sanctuaries that work tirelessly to ensure that wild elephants survive into the future (including Born Free Foundation)—and that he suggests concrete steps that the reader can take to protect elephants. It’s a book that introduces a problem, fosters compassion, and then actually explores solutions.

Elephants present a jumbo problem today: an utterly complex web of factors that enable the continued abuse and exploitation of elephants. Gentle giants, dwindling in numbers, slaughtered in the wild and languishing in captivity.

The elephant poaching crisis has become increasingly severe over the past several years. It’s estimated that more than 86,000 elephants have been poached since January 2012. If the killing rate continues, certain African elephant populations could be extinct within a decade.

And, despite years of effort and action, it seems that progress is made only incrementally—never big enough or fast enough to account for the immensity and immediacy of the problem. The desperate plight of elephants is so painfully apparent, but on a global scale, successful conservation efforts are hugely difficult.

But, courageous advocates are stepping forward to affect real, tangible change: advancements that elephants need in order to survive.

New York and New Jersey have just passed state legislation to shut down the commercial markets for elephant ivory and rhino horn—two of the most important states where ivory is otherwise pervasive in the marketplace. Bravo to Governors Christie and Cuomo for signing these important bills.

The Obama Administration continues to look critically at elephant conservation as part of its overall strategy to combat wildlife trafficking.

Nongovernmental organizations such as Born Free are increasingly putting resources into the field to protect elephants in the wild, where they belong.

Perhaps the future for elephants is potentially bright?

It all starts with education: educating children to care; educating consumers to be compassionate; educating donors to be generous; educating legislators to be visionary and courageous.

‘E’ should never stand for “extinction.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction Review of 5 Elephants

Original posting July 21, 2014:

“Elephants are extremely active animals. In the wild, they will walk, explore, forage, socialize, bathe and engage in a broad range of other activities up to 20 hours a day. Depending on where they live and what season it is, elephants may travel anywhere from a few kilometres to tens of kilometres every day. To behave naturally, elephants require a lot of space…”

I have read Rob Laidlaw’s previous books and am always impressed with his ability to share his knowledge and love for animals and their safety without sounding as if he is giving a lecture. Instead, he brings that care and concern for their welfare, and his meticulous research and writing to his audience to inform and interest them in knowing more about them.

I don’t know how you feel about elephants; I have always been intrigued by their gentle ways and their intelligence. They are so big and so singularly extraordinary with those huge ears, their active nature and their love for family. I have read other books about them, and have also watched numerous videos.

In his newest book, Rob Laidlaw lets his audience know that these gentle giants face some very serious challenges, no matter where they live, or how they live their lives. He presents some truly amazing information about them. Learning about five famous elephants helps to make their plight more personal to those who will share their stories.

Echo is one of the lucky ones, living in the wild, welcoming new babies and sharing their care with her extended elephant family:

“So much of what we know about the lives and relationships of elephants has come from studying Echo, the EB family and the other Amboseli elephants. They have provided us with a glimpse into the complex lives of elephants and forever changed the way we think about these astonishing animals.”

Lucy spent far too much time living alone in a crowded space, with no stimulation, no room to wander and no reason to want a long and happy life. With company, she was more content. For the last seven years she has lived alone at the Valley Zoo in Edmonton.

“Some people say Lucy is an anti-social elephant, but leading elephant scientists say there is no such thing. Every female elephant should be in a family of in the company of other elephants. Lucy won’t be replaced when she dies…”

Tusko was a travelling performance elephant in the early twentieth century, who didn’t appreciate circus life and showed it by going on a rampage, leading to his being considered dangerous and moved from one show to the next. He was frustrated and constantly fought to be free of his chains:

“Tusko couldn’t forage in the forest, swim in a river, or socialize with family or friends like a normal bull elephant.”

In the early 1980s, many people in the world knew, or had heard stories, about Tarra who performed at a theme park in California and was cared for by Carol Buckley. Carol’s worry about Tarra’s future led to her the purchase of property in Tennessee that served as an elephant sanctuary:

“When Tarra arrived, she quickly made herself at home exploring the fields and forests. She grazed on grass, pulled at the trees, and bathed in the ponds. Soon, Tarra was no longer alone as other elephants in need began to arrive at the sanctuary.”

“Thandora was the only elephant left from her family during a culling operation in South Africa. Her life for many years was spent in a zoo, often alone. Conservation groups worked to have her returned to the wild on the Gondwana Game Reserve. 23 years of zoo living meant that much work had to be done to acclimate her to her new home:

“…her astonishing journey has shown that captive elephants can be successfully transitioned to the wild. Thandora is a pioneer who has helped pave the way for others to follow in her footsteps into the wild.”

Lest you think that the stories of these five elephants is all there is, you should know that there is so much more! You will learn how elephants can be kept happy and thriving, learn about the challenges they face in captivity and in their shrinking and often dangerous environment, and learn that there is hope for their future. You can learn how to be an elephant guardian and help to ensure that happens.

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No Shelter Here focus of animal protection project

July 9, 2014 – LINK TO ARTICLE

Charleston County Public Library has received a $3,500 grant to encourage reading and to raise awareness about animal welfare issues and animal welfare-related organizations in the Lowcountry.

The project focuses on the book No Shelter Here: Making the World a Kinder Place for Dogs, by animal advocate Rob Laidlaw. Laidlaw, a biologist, wrote about homeless, mistreated and exploited dogs and the challenges they face while also focusing on “dog champions” — the individuals, small groups and professional organizations around the world dedicated to helping dogs.

Project-related events planned for July include having library staff members visit Charleston Animal Society camps throughout the summer to discuss No Shelter Here, take photographs of campers reading to adoptable animals and help campers make informational posters about humane issues to post at the library.

Additional programs include:

-Dog Days of Summer Photography and Humane Education exhibits, July 1-31, John’s Island Regional Library; July 14-Aug. 31, Main Library.
-No Shelter Here book discussion for ages 7-11, 2 p.m. July 21, Main Library. Registration required; call 843-805-6893.
-Dog Days of Summer main event for ages 8 and older, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 26, Main Library Auditorium. Kids can learn about veterinary medicine, therapy dogs and humane societies and visit with dogs during the event.

The grant was awarded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services and is administered by the S.C. State Library.

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No Shelter Here Wins Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award

HACKMATACK 2014 plaque

No Shelter Here, Making the World a Kinder Place for Dogs won the Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award on May 30, 2014. The awards ceremony took place in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and was attended by hundreds of young readers and adults.

The Hackmatack Children’s Choice Award is a reading program that encourages a love of reading among children in grades 4–6 in Canada’s Atlantic provinces. Participating students choose their favourite books from among a list of 10 in each category: English Fiction, English Non-Fiction, French Fiction, and French Non-Fiction. You can read about this year’s other three winners here.

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On Parade, The Hidden World of Animals in Entertainment (Korean Edition)

On Parade Korean 001

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Saving Lives and Changing Hearts: Animal Sanctuaries and Rescue Centers was the Durham Family of Schools Choice for Best Book – Non-Fiction

Durham Best Books Winner Durham-Best-Books-Winner

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2014 Skipping Stones Honor Award for Saving Lives and Changing Hearts

Each year, Skipping Stones magazine recognizes outstanding books and teaching resources with the Skipping Stones Honor Awards. The honored books promote an understanding of cultures, cultivate cooperation and encourage a deeper understanding of the world’s diversity. They also encourage ecological richness, respect for multiple viewpoints and closer relationships within human societies. Saving Lives and Changing Hearts: Animal Sanctuaries and Rescue Centers is on the list for nature and ecology books.

Skipping Stones Review

Saving Lives & Changing Hearts: Animal Sanctuaries and Rescue Centres by Rob Laidlaw (www. Grades 4-8. ISBN: 978-1-55455-212-2

Saving Lives and Changing Hearts tells hopeful stories of humans from around the world stepping up to rescue animals in bad situations and to give them better lives. This heartening book describes “real sanctuaries,” then highlights successful organizations.

Some basic principles of real sanctuaries are that the physical, psychological and social needs of animals are the highest priority. There is no commercial trade or breeding of animals. Real sanctuaries also play a role in helping solve the problems that create the need for sanctuaries in the first place and educating the public.

Among the sanctuaries featured are touching stories about donkeys, elephants, chimpanzees, pigs in Canada, elephants and rhinos in Kenya, bears and raptors in China, lions in Ethiopia, and turtles and pelicans in the United States.

Saving Lives and Changing Hearts was strongly praised by all of the reviewers for the Skipping Stones Award because it does a good job of covering an important subject. The book promotes respect for and partnership with animals—an important message for all humans.

—Charlotte Behm, educator

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Cat Champions – An Excellent Resource

Ingram Library Services: News and Reviews for the Youth Librarian

Canadian Laidlaw is an animal welfare advocate whose books should be finding more homes in U.S. libraries because they are excellent nonfiction resources filled with valuable information with attention-grabbing, scrapbook-style layout and design. In Cat Champions, a companion to No Shelter Here, the author discusses the domesticated cat and how it is treated by today’s societies. The material is presented in small tidbits that are great for a quick read here and there but that work together cohesively for a one-sit reading. My favorite aspect of this work is that, by spotlighting young cat champions who are working to make the lives of cats better, Laidlaw shows readers that they, too, can have an impact, because no positive action is too small. Rich end material—cat lover’s pledge, resources & links, glossary, and index—finish this excellent resource for ages 9 to 12.

—Becky Walton, MLIS, Collection Development

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Cat Champions Starred Review in Best Books 2014

Cat Champions Gets Starred Review in The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books for Kids & Teens 2014, Spring Edition.


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BookShorts Literacy Program

Books We Love: No Shelter Here

No Shelter Here: Making the World a Kinder Place for Dogs was announced today as the Winner of 2013 Red Maple™ Fiction Award, part of the Ontario Library Association (OLA) and Authors at Harbourfront Centre 2013 Forest of Reading® Awards. Each year, over 250,000 participants read a shortlist of books in their age category and vote for their favourites.

This win caps a host of prestigious honours and high praise from those in the front lines of animal rescue, and publisher Pajama Press deserve all the kudos for releasing this, and a host of books with a great deal of social consciousness.  Furever Network applauds their work! As does the community … here’s just one sample …

Pet Rescue Magazine’s “Tail of the Month”

“No Shelter Here is a wonderful introductory for younger generations and sure to be a book the entire family will learn from. From what dogs need to have a quality life to serious issues and those who face them, Rob Laidlaw gives young readers a fair but realistic view on today’s canine world. While learning simple facts about acquiring a dog, their needs and responsible ownership, they are also exposed to several realities in the canine/human realm.”

No Shelter Here: Making the World a Kinder Place for Dogs

Price: CDN$ 15.85
ISBN: 10: 0986949558


When it comes to the impact humans have on ‘Man’s Best Friend’ there are sensitive issues that can be extremely difficult to discuss, let alone explain. Laidlaw gently explores the various topics such as research, racing, chaining and puppy mills while featuring what he calls ‘Champions’ from around the world and what they are doing to create change”
– Jamie Hunter, Rescue Mag

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