Elephants in Captivity with Ulara Nakagawa

Ulara Nakagawa of Elephants in Japan teaches us about elephants in captivity, especially when they are alone, and how to help them, in episode 65 of the For Animals. For Earth. show.

Ulara Nakagawa of Elephants in Japan taught me today about elephants in captivity.  She specifically focuses on helping elephants who are in solitary captivity in Japan, but her organization teaches about elephant welfare all over the world.

She shared a helpful analogy:

An elephant, in captivity alone, in a small concrete zoo, is like a human being, being locked into a bathroom, not being allowed to talk to anyone, and being kept there for 60+ years.

It puts it into perspective, doesn’t it?  Elephants are increasingly known as sensitive, smart, and compassionate beings who need significant stimulation and space to roam.  They show signs of stress through deeply repetitive coping behaviors such as bobbing, walking back and forth, or flipping over the same toy in the same way, again and again.

Ulara’s investigations have not only uncovered torturous conditions in zoos in Japan but ways to make things better in the short term, midterm, and long term for each elephant.  Her findings pertain to elephants in captivity everywhere, and we can all read, learn and spread the word around us.

Start with the simple ideas below.

9 Simple Ideas to Help Elephants:

1. READ “SOLITARY ELEPHANTS IN JAPAN”.  This informative report is an easy read and will teach us about the conditions of elephants living in captivity in Japan, their physical and psychological state, and things that can be done to improve life for them.  These ideas can be used for elephants in captivity everywhere.  Follow up with the 2021 update.

2. READ WORLD ANIMAL PROTECTION’S ELEPHANT FRIENDLY TOURIST GUIDE.  This guide educates the public on the best way to interact with elephants.  Thousands of elephants are currently suffering in the name of tourism, and we can change this.  Share this guide, and use it to book experiences when we travel.

3. EDUCATE OURSELVES.  Follow more of the links below and go down the rabbit hole for a while.  Learn enough to speak intelligently on the topic of elephants in captivity and find the best ways to help.

4. SHARE WHAT WE LEARN WITH THE PEOPLE AROUND US.  Take this information and share it.  One of the worst plights that elephants face is a lack of understanding, even in people who love them.  We can change so much by talking about what we learn and sharing resources.

5. SIGN PETITIONS.  Ulara taught us about the power of a petition today.  The list below includes multiple petitions that can be signed in less than 2 minutes to help elephants around the world.

6. FUNNEL OUR ANGER & FRUSTRATION INTO GOOD.  Helping these elephants is a very emotional experience.  But without humans who will speak up for them, they don’t have a voice.  We do need to act.  Join a group, volunteer, write a petition, post on social media.  Take a tiny action that feels doable.

7. TINY ACTIONS.  Changing just one minute of another living being’s life for the better is worth it.  And it does matter.  We may not be able to free an elephant from confinement, but we may be able to get them more time with a keeper, or an enriching activity to do.  Keep going, making one minute of life better at a time.

8. PRACTICE SELF-CARE.  Compassion fatigue and burnout are all too real.  Ulara urges us to stay focused on the tiny steps that are possible within our daily lives and surround ourselves with a community to support us.

9. MAKE A PLANT-BASED MEAL FOR A FRIEND.  Ulara mentioned that she does this often, and it gives her the chance to share something she loves while advocating for animals simultaneously.  Sharing a meal also includes conversation, and as we’ve mentioned, conversation can go a long way.

LISTEN TO THE EPISODE:

FOLLOW:   Apple  |  Google  |  Spotify  |  Other

Links mentioned in this episode:

Elephant petitions to sign right now:

WATCH THE EPISODE:

Closed captioning transcript included in video.  Subscribe on YouTube.

About Ulara:

Ulara Nakagawa of Elephants in Japan teaches us about elephants in captivity, especially when they are alone, and how to help them, in episode 65 of the For Animals. For Earth. show.

Ulara is the founder of Elephants in Japan, a global organization working to improve the welfare of captive elephants. She is a communications professional who’s worked with organizations including Hootsuite, Care2, Blue Horizon Group, The Economist and more. A former news editor and journalist, Ulara has written for and inspired coverage in outlets including CNN, BBC, WSJ, National Geographic, Entrepreneur, Business Insider and many more.

ULARA’S WORK: 

  • Elephants in Japan is a global organization whose mission is to investigate and improve the living conditions of captive elephants, and to educate the public about elephant welfare.
  • The After Animals Podcast features interviews with the world’s top purpose-driven founders and companies making scaleable and innovative solutions for animal-free food, fashion and entertainment.
  • Center for Contemporary Sciences (CCS) is a nonprofit advancing human-specific research methods and testing to improve lives through education, funding and championing scientific innovation.

Connect with Ulara:

The best place to connect with Ulara is via the contact form on the Elephants in Japan website:

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Ulara Nakagawa of Elephants in Japan teaches us about elephants in captivity, especially when they are alone, and how to help them, in episode 65 of the For Animals. For Earth. show.
Ulara Nakagawa of Elephants in Japan teaches us about elephants in captivity, especially when they are alone, and how to help them, in episode 65 of the For Animals. For Earth. show.
Ulara Nakagawa of Elephants in Japan teaches us about elephants in captivity, especially when they are alone, and how to help them, in episode 65 of the For Animals. For Earth. show.
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