The name of Limba is now known amongst animal rights activists. There is Franco-Anglo animal rights group that gives her a voice in both official Canadian languages that also started a petition for Limba. And upon recently there is a strong local group of young Canadian Animal Rights Activists that are opposing to the life that Limba has endured for so long. All these details are just recent actions taken by animal rights activists. But in all fairness, Terri Martel is the woman that has been giving Limba a voice for a very long time. “Happy endings are for very few elephants. The ones that have actually made it to sanctuaries, once they get there the transformation is amazing, the thought that Limba and other captive elephants could have that to, that keeps me going” said Terri.
Terri Martel is a defender of elephants in captivity. Besides giving them a voice, through petitions and during protests, she also gets to know them. She knows the elephants by name and their stories. She knows the names of those that exploit elephants and she knows the names of those that could help elephants. Her knowledge about the topic is to be admired and respected. If there is something that needs to be known about elephants in captivity she is a woman with the heart that she would share all that she knows in order for the elephants to be freed. There is a successful petition of hers on Change.org that helped two elephants in Malaysia. In the elephantactivism.org site her name can be found and she is thanked for her valuable help.
At the moment, Terri is on a special quest. There is nothing more that her heart desires than to see Limba the elephant retired. She moved to the community of Courtice in Ontario and since the day she saw Limba the elephant walking outside the Bowmanville Zoo, she has taken on the fight for her well being. “ The first time I saw Limba was at an Apple Festival in downtown Bowmanville, we were there checking out venders, having a good time …I just looked up and there she was standing beside a platform while people were being loaded on her back.” Terri described how she would just see infants and adults in line waiting their turn and get to do an elephant ride. “I’m not sure what shocked me more how sad and out of place the elephant was or that I seemed to be the only person that thought this was wrong.” She says that day she realized that she had to fight for an elephant that literally lived in her backyard.
It has been a bit longer than 5 years that she has been gaining information and sharing this information in order for Limba’s story to be known. “It is unimaginable to think that people are so desensitized by the casual existence of an elephant amidst the people. There is no need to keep her on a leash, because there is no law that prohibits her from walking without one. There seems to be no need to try to tell people to have common sense, the majority of Bowemanville is sure that the elephant is a circus elephant and not a wild animal” explained Terri.
She is an independent activist that her passion and love for Limba can be seen when her eyes get filled up of tears while she speaks. She has been asked to leave the Bowmanville Zoo when the Director himself asked for people to visit his zoo and see a performance where people could ask questions. Terri is very aware that her persona is not welcomed.
After the first protest of the year in front of Bowmanville Zoo, I got an exclusive interview with Terri Martell. More information about Bowmanville Zoo is yet to come. Terri said something that I will never forget:
In Ontario you cannot own a pit bull, but you can walk an elephant or tiger [in public property] and people consider it normal
She is a mother, a wife and yet she finds the time to reach out to people and network just for the love of Limba the elephant. It is a difficult task to be an advocate and Terri has good people around her to give her the support she needs. When asked how she finds the strength to continue fighting she explained:
My main support system consists of two people and I don’t think I could do it without them, my husband who understands and supports why I need to do this and does whatever he can to help out, the other my good friend Gert, who shares the same views and has similar ideas when it comes to captive elephants, we work really well together but more than that I have gained a good friend…
She educates her children to love and respect animals. She educates those that are joining the fight for Limba. She is Limba’s first voice and others are hearing her message. When she realized that there was a petition started by KARA seeking for Limba to be retired she said that she felt that there was some else was interested on Limba and more people would be there to join the fight. Then the local animal rights activist group DARA learned about Limba due to the petition and started scheduling public protests. At the DARA protest of the opening of the zoo in 2013, Terri was present and Terri was there to continue a voice for Limba. She will always be there for Limba; she will always be there for the elephants.
I see Limba’s retirement being spent roaming green fields, bathing in ponds, socializing with her own kind. I see her simply being an elephant. A sanctuary can offer her those things…. I don’t think people choose to look the other way, for generations society has taught us that this is ok, the animals are treated well and perform because they want to, but I think if the public really knew the lives these animals are forced to lead and the methods used to train/control them they would be outraged. The more we learn about elephants the more we learn as well as understand why captivity doesn’t work for them – Terri Martel
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