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  • Writer's pictureJace Shoemaker-Galloway

Elephant Appreciation Day: Plight of the magnificent mammals

When it comes to holidays, this one is a biggy – literally! Sept. 22 is Elephant Appreciation Day, an annual “holiday” that celebrates one of the world's most intelligent and amazing creatures - elephants.

After receiving a paperweight with elephants from his daughter as a gift, Wayne Hepburn became captivated with these magnificent mammals. Over the years, Hepburn began collecting all kinds of pachyderm products – from books and jewelry to figures, advertising pieces and toys. Over the years, his collection grew to well over 1,000 elephant-related items. In 1996, Hepburn “founded” Elephant Appreciation Day, also referred to as Elephant Day.

Considered the largest land mammal in the world, elephants can live up to 70 years old – if they are given the chance. Sadly, habitat loss and poaching continues to threaten elephants. Despite the fact the ivory trade is illegal, the demand continues. Poachers kill thousands of elephants each year. In 2011, nearly 40 tons of illegal ivory was seized – an all-time record. Sadly, that ivory came from 4,000 slaughtered elephants!

Elephants form very close family bonds and live in matriarchal family groups called herds. When a calf is born, it is raised and cared for by the herd. Male elephants eventually leave the herd when they are between 12-15 years of age and will either live alone or may live with other males. These intelligent creatures have very long memories, which can help them search for water holes they visited in the past. Elephants also mourn.

It is estimated that only 35-40,000 wild Asian elephants, considered endangered, and 450-700,000 African elephants, considered vulnerable, roam the earth today. Awareness and education is critical to saving the elephant from extinction. Today serves as an important reminder that the fate of these beautiful creatures is in our hands.

Sept. 22 is also Dear Diary Day, American Business Women's Day, National White Chocolate Day and National Ice Cream Cone Day.

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