Published by Michelle Kretzer.

Elephants are some of the most majestic animals on Earth. It’s no wonder that we find them so awe-inspiring. Aside from being striking to behold, they also share many characteristics with humans, such as being social, family-oriented, and fiercely protective. They also flirt with each other and even argue about directions. They’re sensitive and intelligent beings with impressive long-term memories. For National Elephant Appreciation Day, here are five ways that you can help these remarkable animals.

Herd of Asian elephants© iStock.com/eROMAZe

1. Sign PETA’s action alerts to help get the six loneliest captive elephants in America—held in isolation by zoos and circuses—released to accredited sanctuaries, where they can experience the companionship of other elephants. Being isolated from all other members of their species is tantamount to torture for animals who would normally live among family and friends for their entire lives.

2. Don’t get taken for a ride—in the U.S. or abroad. Elephants forced to haul humans around on their backs are usually separated from their mothers as babies and beaten to make them obey their handlers, and they live in fear of physical punishment. As people become more aware of these abusive training methods and avoid tourist attractions using elephants, many businesses in Asia that offer elephant rides, baths, paintings, or other encounters have started billing themselves as “rescues,” “sanctuaries,” “orphanages,” or other nice-sounding names—but the abusive training methods and deprivation are the same. Don’t let them fool you.

3. And tell the travel companies still offering elephant encounters that you’re an elefriend and you won’t be booking trips with them until they stop promoting cruelty.

4. We all love to wear beautiful ellie-themed clothes anyway, so why not support PETA’s work to free elephants from captivity at the same time?

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5. It’s easy to get discouraged after reading about cruelty to animals. But check out just some of the victories that you and PETA won for elephants recently to help you stay energized. You persuaded TripAdvisor and more than 100 other travel companies (and counting) to stop offering elephant encounters. You got Gajraj, Sunder, Mariappan, and many other captive elephants freed from chains and into lush sanctuaries. And never forget: You shut down Ringling.

Together, we are winning for elephants, and we won’t stop until every last one is free.

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