PETA India is getting elephatronic!
Ellie is a unique, empathy-building initiative available in English and Hindi. She’s Asia’s first realistic educational animatronic elephant, and she’ll be visiting schools across India, teaching children about the importance of kindness and empathy. She was launched at Jamnabai Narsee International School in Mumbai.
Voiced by actor and PETA India supporter Dia Mirza, Ellie offers a unique first-person perspective on the lives of real elephants used in circuses, for rides, and in other cruel spectacles. Ellie astonishes youngsters as she blinks her eyes, flaps her ears, and tells the poignant story of being separated from her mother as a baby and the physical punishment she endured as a circus “performer”, eventually being rescued and allowed to enjoy a happy life at an animal sanctuary.
“Elephants are deeply intelligent, social, and emotional beings who belong in nature, not in confinement, where they are chained and beaten,” says Mirza, who is known for her work as UN Secretary-General Advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals and UN Environment Program Goodwill Ambassador. “I am delighted to be working with PETA India and giving a voice to Ellie to teach youngsters that kindness to elephants means letting them live free.”
She adds, “As a mother, it’s an extremely conscious choice for me to support and work with education initiatives that create such a beautiful and nuanced sense of connection with nature among children. Through Ellie, I hope we can further build the precious bond our young ones already have with the planet as earthlings.”
Elephants Don’t Belong in Chains
Baby elephants are often torn away from their mothers and either tied up between trees with heavy chains and ropes – causing painful burns – or confined to a cramped wooden enclosure called a kraal. To break their spirits and force them to obey, trainers beat the young elephants with sticks and jab them with an ankus – a weapon with a sharp metal hook on one end.
When they’re not forced to perform, elephants in circuses or used for rides and ceremonies are kept in chains. They are never given adequate food, water, or veterinary care, and the years spent standing in one position on hard concrete surfaces often lead to painful and crippling foot ailments and arthritis. And unlike consenting adult human performers, elephants are forced to entertain through the use of fear and pain. Because of this abuse, they often develop abnormal behaviour, such as constant head-bobbing and swaying, or they even kill their mahouts or other humans.
See the Individual
Ellie explains that elephants have feelings and personalities – just like humans. “We may not look exactly the same,” she tells her audiences, “but we do have a lot in common.”
Elephants like to go swimming. They love exploring. They have excellent memories. Just as human babies sometimes suck their thumb, baby elephants suck their trunk. Elephants can feel happy or sad, scared or jealous. They love their families. In nature, female elephants stay with their mothers for their entire lives.
And just like humans, elephants should be allowed to live free, in their natural environment.
Would You Like Ellie to Visit Your School?
Thousands of children, teachers, and parents throughout the US have already been inspired by PETA US’ animatronic elephant, Ellie, and her captivating words. She would love to visit your school, too. Please write to us at [email protected] for more information, and in the meantime, check out PETA India’s free humane education program Compassionate Citizen.