Sunday, Sept. 22, is a big day.
No, really, it’s a BIG day,
So big, in fact — like seven or so tons big — it’s hard to imagine how anyone could forget.
And with ears like theirs, they’re bound to hear the news.
Yep, you guessed it, it’s Elephant Appreciation Day, and there’s a lot to appreciate.
· Highest estimates place the world’s wild elephant population at 740,000, less than 40,000 of which are in Asia and the remainder in Africa.
· An average elephant calf weighs more than 200 pounds at birth.
· Elephants weigh between 7,000 and 13,000 pounds (about three cars, or eight large adult cows).
· An elephant’s brain weighs more than 10 pounds.
· It takes up to 400 pounds of vegetation each day to feed an elephant and about 50 gallons of water.
· Unlike humans and most mammals, which only grow two sets of teeth, elephants grow six sets of teeth throughout their lives.
· Elephants have been trained by mankind for thousands of years going back to at least 1100 BC (think Biblical and before: Ark of the Covenant, Troy, Shang Dynasty…).
It’s no wonder people have a love for elephants. Not only are they fascinating and exotic, they also have a lot in common with humans, from long pregnancies (up to two years), tight knit societies and strong family bonds, lifespans of 70 plus years, high intelligence that includes self-awareness and cognition and behaviors that seem to demonstrate emotion, compassion and affection that humans can relate to.
A tradition of 17 years, Elephant Appreciation Day was created by Florida man Wayne Hepburn, who developed a fascination for the huge mammals after his daughter gave him an elephant paperweight, and sparked a 20-some year, multi-thousand piece collection of elephant objects.
Aside from their wide appeal (backsides notwithstanding), the plight of the wild elephant is a long standing cause that has captured the hearts of many and spurred world-wide efforts to preserve their habitats and protect them from harm.
Just this week, citing the death of 96 African elephants a day at the hands of poachers, The White House announced plans to destroy six million tons of seized ivory, joining a trend among nations invested in stopping the illegal trade.
There are a lot of ways to celebrate Elephant Appreciation Day.
·Eat your meals one bite at a time.
· Wave at or even have a conversation about the big guy in the room.
· Work for peanuts.
· Go on a search for the pink variety (responsibly and legally, of course).
· Play a couple games of Memory with the kids.
· Squeal at a mouse.
· Tickle the ivories (faux, naturally).
· Say a word of thanks that your garden woes come rabbit-sized (There are people gardening in Africa after all).
· Make a one-day exception and let the kids blow milk bubbles through their noses.
· Host a “White Elephant Sale” and pawn those unused possessions off on someone else.
· Take the family on a stampede through a local park or ice cream aisle of preference.
Elephants have done a lot for people, not the least of which was making it OK to have big ears and teaching generations of kids that really big things can fly with a little confidence and faith.
As such, it only seems fair that they should have at least one day they can call their own — who knows, maybe we can swing even more than that one of these days.
Sharna Johnson is a writer who is always searching for ponies. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at: www.insearchofponies.blogspot.com