Promoting compassionate action over aggressive confrontation

From peaceful circus protests to presentations at public libraries, from offering talks at community centers to testifying at city council meetings about what is condoned or condemned, we work to have real conversations with people to inspire change in lives of elephants used for entertainment.

Creating Change Through Positivity

What we don’t do is play the “shame and blame” game. We don’t block people from heading into a circus or demonstrate with violent pictures of abuse, and we don’t ridicule people who think differently than we do—we don’t meet violence with violence or insist that our way is the only way that is right.

What we do promote is consistent compassionate action instead of fighting cruel systems with anger and aggression. We encourage zoos to transition away from outdated systems based on confinement and forced breeding to becoming leaders worldwide in humane education and true conservation. We peacefully protest the circus, but instead of shouting slogans with aggressive signs, we strive to have real conversations with people, giving them what is often new information and encouraging them to support circuses that do not use animals.  

Once people know, will they still go?

We can “rally for” or we can “fight against”, and being “for” something dissolves some of the most ragged edges of any topic of disagreement.  It’s a slow journey toward change, but positive change is happening and honest conversations are bringing us ever closer to living in a world where Compassion Trumps Captivity.

We work for this change by calmly and consistently sharing the truth about the reality of how elephants suffer in every circus and in many zoos.  In the USA we speak with zoo Boards, testify at City Council meetings, speak at Captive Elephant Forums and lead peaceful circus protests.  In SE Asia we strive to educate tourists attending circus shows about the reality of what they’re supporting when they buy that ticket or cross another elephant ride off that bucket list. 

We Fought.  Hard. But Packy Lost…

Heart of Ganesh is currently out working in the field in central Sri Lanka, but we are deeply saddened to hear that our “Home” elephant, the world-famous Packy, is no longer among the living.

Packy, the oldest elephant in captivity in the US, was born, lived, and then died at the Oregon Zoo in Portland. Packy was euthanized last week after the zoo reported that his life could not be made better while doing battle with tuberculosis.

However, reports from anonymous zoo keepers and longterm caregivers from the zoo stated that the plan to “put Packy down” was “not based on science, safety or Packy’s best interest” but rather in the self-interest of the zoo to close the book on the increasingly controversial story of keeping Packy in the confines of the Oregon Zoo.

We’re reminded of the last time, after many many times, that Heart of Ganesh (along with Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants and many other concerned and compassionate citizens) offered testimony to the Portland Metro City Council about the condition and morality of holding elephants at the Oregon Zoo.

This is a bit of the transcript from what we said that day:

“Like others sitting behind and beside me, I’ve been here many times. We all have. We’ve called, we’ve written, we’ve signed, and we will again and again. We will not just sit and wring our hands in dismay and anger and talk amongst ourselves about how inhumane or unjust your confinement of these sentient beings is.

What’s MISSING from the equation is your Compassion and Leadership. Once again, we are imploring you to become leaders instead of followers, for certainly you know by now that the world is watching.

I invite you to look at the message you embody, the message you give the people of Portland, the message you send to your children, the message you are now sending the world, as you continue to turn away from another’s suffering, turning instead toward the almighty dollar and status quo.

To create lasting change that doesn’t just deal with the symptoms, but digs underneath to what we must do to leave a legacy of kindness, and to do so without preaching or hostility, takes a real conversation, and it’s powerful to know so many people, right here— behind me, beside me, are creating the time to have that conversation”.

After we each spoke, Portland Metro President Tom Hughes looked condescendingly into the audience and stated “…now you have to listen to me, and YOU ARE WRONG.”

Door closed, conversation and communcations stopped, without options. And now, Packy is gone.

Whatever the true story may be, our hearts are with Packy, with all who loved him truly, and with the many other captive elephants living in isolation in cramped conditions around the world.

Advocates everywhere will never give up— we will continue to intervene in this stormy world, to rise up in solidarity and in action for the day when Compassionate Care is the norm and kindness is the legacy we leave behind.


January, 2017

To all of the steadfast advocates all over America who actively protested the Ringling Brothers Circus, YOU DID IT!

And to every Heart of Ganesh advocate  who stood out in the rain in Ridgefield, withstood the heat (and hot-headed naysayers) repeatedly at the Moda Center, and peacefully protested everywhere in between, YOUR VOICE, YOUR TIME, and YOUR HEART MATTERED!

One of the Cruelest Shows on Earth is now ready to take down its tents for the last time–truly a giant step forward to a more compassionate world, and not just for elephants, but for all sentient beings.

Yes, there is still a long ways to go for compassionate treatment for the elephants moving out of the Ringling Brothers circus (and all of the other circus animals as well), no doubt about it. Next step is to raise awareness about the research and breeding center so that elephants stop being commodities to make money off of.

But this is still a huge step in the right direction! No more busloads of school kids (with the free tickets the circus always handed out), no more “fun night out with the family” sort of rhetoric, and a huge amount of exposure so necessary to initiate lasting change 

Even though the largest circus is now closing, we will continue to create, support, and participate in Peaceful Protests until every last animal circus closes its doors as well.  From the remaining traveling circuses in the USA to the small but plentiful circuses across SE Asia, we stand united and will protest with passion until Compassion is the star of the show.

Pinterest upTweet out, OpEd in, Yelp it down, and share it round and round again. Connect with your city/state to  share the truth about the cruelest show on earth and what children are really learning by looking at animals in confined spaces.  Call your City Council, Mayor, Governor and Senators and Congress persons. Talk about it on Facebook, at dinner, or on TripAdvisor.  Successes are happening because people are rising up!