Elephants on the Edge : What Animals Teach Us About Humanity
LJ Reviews 2009 October #2
This volume by an animal trauma specialist and director of the Kerulos Center (www.kerulos.org), an animal welfare organization, mixes science and poetry in urging us to rethink our attitudes toward elephant suffering. In the first half, Bradshaw draws on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and animal behavior to present an excellent portrait of elephant psychology and personality, revealing how elephant trauma is very similar to the human experience. But she undercuts her argument in the second half with a polemical attack on all institutional human contact with elephants: zoos, circuses, theme parks, and ecotourist preserves. She carefully details worst-case abuses, comparing the system to the Nazi annihilation of Jews and the U.S. destruction of American Indians. The key question is: Does Bradshaw's proof of elephant sentience and "personhood" force us to the conclusion of total animal-human separation? Her ideal model is the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, where visitors are prohibited, and elephants roam freely with very little human contact. VERDICT While Bradshaw offers perceptive and solid science, she unfortunately draws some dubious practical conclusions.—John M. Kistler, Washington, PA[Page 97]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
PW Reviews 2009 August #3
This thoughtful book by animal trauma specialist Bradshaw draws analogies between human and animal culture to illustrate the profound "breakdown" occurring in elephant societies. Extraordinarily sensitive and social, elephants' survival has long depended on their matriarchal lineage—now sundered by culling the herds, which disrupts the hierarchy—and their psyches have been broken by prolonged isolation and separation, painful hooks used as training tools and general cruelty. Captured elephants meet the criteria of the psychiatirc handbook DSM for suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Drawing on research on animal trauma, concentration camp survivors and Konrad Lorenz–type ethology, Bradshaw makes a multidisciplinary condemnation of elephant abuse and celebrates those working on rehabilitating and healing the animals—including an elephant massage therapist and the owners of an elephant sanctuary in the Tennessee hills. In the end, anthropomorphizing isn't the issue; Bradshaw says that instead of giving animals human feelings, we should observe that they have feelings that correlate with what we may feel in similar circumstances. With its heartbreaking findings and irrefutable conclusions, this book bears careful reading and consideration. (Oct.)[Page 57]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.