Why an elephant killing a little girl with a rock is important

This story is getting virtually zero play in American mainstream media at the moment, but it highlights a problem that nearly every nation on the planet is dealing with. A tragic incident in Morocco took place this week while we were all watching the convention in Philadelphia. At a zoo in Rabat, and elephant used her trunk to pick up and hurl a rock at a little girl, killing her. Needless to say, this stunned all of the zoo’s visitors. (CNN)

A 7-year-old Moroccan girl has died after a zoo elephant threw a rock at her. Managers at the zoo in the capital of Rabat confirmed the details in a press statement.

The girl died a few hours after being transferred to hospital. Video shot by a zoo visitor shows a number of people huddled around the girl and holding her head, which was flowing with blood, while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

The park management said the girl had been hit after the female elephant hurled the rock out of its enclosure. The girl had been in the visitors’ area with her family, looking at the elephant and trying to take a picture.

The first thing you might note here aside from the tragedy of a young girl being killed is the fact that elephants apparently know how to use ranged weapons. But it’s not that much of a surprise. Elephants are smart… very smart. And they regularly demonstrate tool using intelligence. (There’s an elephant who paints portraits who gets a lot of television time.) Elephants also demonstrate a broad range of emotions and are extremely social creatures. But it’s also important to remember that as smart as they are, elephants have a distinctly non-human intelligence. You don’t really know what they’re thinking or what motivates them sometimes.

In this case the elephant isn’t being killed, thankfully, unlike Harambe the gorilla or Cecil the lion, but people were talking about the possibility. Why are we blaming the elephant? The real problem, as I’ve written here in the past, is the zoos. Why do we still need them in the 21st century? I get that elephants are critically endangered because of evil cretins who poach them for their tusks, but there’s a superior and obvious solution out there. For the cost of the money you’d save by shutting down just a few zoos you could assign squads of troops to follow around the elephant herds which remain in the world and start shooting poachers. We’re not talking about a massive standing army here. Just a dozen or two armed troops at each location, a couple of jeeps and personnel carriers, some sniper rifles and maybe a drone or two with infrared cameras to scope out the approaching poachers. As soon as a few dead bodies began showing up in their home towns, the attractiveness of poaching jobs would diminish rapidly.

Elephants are too smart and too easily bored to be kept penned up in zoos. If you really want to see one in person, go on a safari. Otherwise, you can watch all the elephants you like on YouTube and the National Geographic Channel. Zoos are an anachronism at this point, and the bigger, smarter animals are all miserable living there. I’m not calling for government intervention here, but if people would simply stop patronizing them they would probably shut down on their own. Put the elephants and the other large animals back where they belong and just do a better job of protecting them in the wild. If you really want to shoot an elephant, use a camera.

On a lighter note, here’s the elephant who does self portraits.

KillerElephant