Through the Eyes of Ernest

The purpose of this book is to raise awareness and educate the reader about the amazing complexity of elephants. And how we, mankind, have not done right by them. I also want to remind the reader that we have a choice in whether or not we keep elephants, or any animal, captive. The elephants do not have a choice.

Ernest’s story is a well researched fictional account of real life events. Ernest represents Every Elephant. There are currently three species of elephants in the world: Asian Elephants, African Savanna Elephants, and African Forest Elephants. For the purpose of this story, it does not matter which species. This book is about any and all elephants who have lived or currently live captive to man in North America. Elephants are not indigenous to North America and true conservation of elephants in other countries is approached differently.

Elephants are extremely intelligent, kind, sensitive, and gentle beings who experience joy, happiness, forgiveness, and love. They are also capable of boredom, loneliness, frustration, grief, and even despair. They function in a highly sophisticated and organized society led by an older and wiser matriarch. They are extremely social and help one another in giving birth and raising their young. Females stay with their families for life. Elephants communicate vocally, sometimes with sounds inaudible to humans and seismically through the ground. They honor their dead. When a friend or family member dies, the other elephants stay with the body and mourn. They weep real tears.

Elephants are everything we can ever hope to be. They are already there. We can learn a lot from our Elephant friends. If only we would listen…

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Born in captivity, Ernest has no idea about life in the wild. He has no connection to any of his wild relatives. His first elephant friend, wild born Frankie, tells Ernest about the pleasures of living in the wild and the close-knit family he deeply misses. Frankie’s stories of life as a free elephant sound magical, but hopelessly unattainable. Ernest doesn’t know what he is missing, but he is about to find out…

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This is a powerful story the author wrote to illuminate a captive elephant’s life to people, like me, who never thought about it before. In the form of a fictional story, she takes us into the world of zoos and circuses from an elephant’s point of view. And we finally begin to see how powerless and heartbroken these magnificent creatures become when forced to live in confinement and sometimes devastating cruelty. Ernest is the young elephant we follow from his birth to his adult years. We meet new elephants as well as their human caretakers, some loving and some cruel, as Ernest is transferred from one facility to another. We say goodbye to some, too. The author draws you into their world, which is filled with spiritual depth, kindness and familial love. Ernest will “make your heart smile” while talking about the importance of “doing elephant things.” While Ernest draws you through the story, it is the author’s portrayal of the matriarch, Eve, which so deeply touched my heart. There are lessons here beyond welfare of elephants. This book might be too literal for very young children. But what a powerful impact it would have on junior high and high school students to use as a basis for a research project, and hopefully as a catalyst to make a difference in their communities. Proceeds from buying this book are one way to help. But more important is to read and share it with others so we can all take off our blinders, change our awareness, and make a difference for elephants.

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