Every so often, the topic of elephants will be brought up in conversation, usually because there was something in the news mentioning a new discovery about elephant behaviour, but regardless of the reason, my response is always the same, an inexplicable remark that I hate elephants, I absolutely loathe them. The typical response to this is an incredulous stare and a query as to why I could possibly direct such venom towards such “majestic and docile animals”. At the time, I usually struggle to explain why I feel this way, so I usually just say “Yeah, it’s irrational, but I just hate them.” and end it there. But now with this blog, I have an opportunity to state my reasons fully, so that I can direct people to it when the need arises, not to try to convince them that they should adopt my view, but as a way to give people a glimpse into why I hold this seemingly unusual view.
I think it’s important to start by specifying that this is not a phobia, nor is it a result of a traumatic event, I was never accosted in a dark alley by a sinister elephant. I did get up close to an elephant when I was a child though, there was one at a visiting circus, and they were letting kids sit on top of it to get a photo taken. I did refuse to climb up onto the creature, but that was not due to any dislike or fear of the animal, I had no feelings toward it at the time or after. I did however have a fear of heights, and being perched so high up on anything was a scary prospect, let alone something that moved. Still, when I have been grilled about my hatred of elephants, one of the first things people enquire upon is whether I’ve had any experiences with elephants in the past, and out of an unwillingness to lie, I’ve had to share the above circus encounter, which always resulted in them either stating or thinking that they’d solved the conundrum of my unusual hatred, nothing could irk me more.
I’ve had all sorts of pets over the years, all of which I’ve adored, and have always described myself as an animal lover, elephants are the sole exception (so far). I actually used to like Elephants once too, as much as every other animal, it wasn’t until much later in life that my opinion of elephants gradually changed into outright dislike. I started to notice patterns of traits and behaviour attributed to elephants that were to my eye increasingly abhorrent. Over time all of these small pieces started to coalesce in my mind to form the image of a creature entirely abnormal and repugnant, a creature that could have easily been something conjured from the mind of H. P. Lovecraft, but was instead formed by nature, and whose sinister qualities are entirely ignored by the world in favour of the image of being “lovable gentle giants”.
I’m going to try to list the key contributing factors to my arguably warped subjective view of elephants, so as to show you all my way of thinking.
- Ugliness/Freakishness – It’s not difficult to see just how ugly elephants are, their appearance can be considered downright grotesque. The misshapen knobbly skull, the comically huge ears, the elongated prehensile nose, those little beady eyes. Joseph Merrick was named after them for a reason. Not only are they ugly though, but they also have a few physical qualities that are downright bizarre, which to my mind makes them mutated freakish creatures, warped by evil forces. Some of these qualities include, the inability to jump, or to properly run (instead they shuffle at higher speed), constantly growing teeth at the backs of their mouths, pushing older teeth to the front where they get crushed and broken until they fall out. Their bulbous drum-like feet, which are highly sensitive to vibrations in the ground, to the point where it’s been theorized that they can communicate with each other over vast distances by stomping on the ground.
- Intelligence – It’s also quite well-known how intelligent these ugly creatures are, they’re right up there with primates and dolphins. They actually have the largest brains of any land mammal, and there are new studies coming out all the time having discovered yet more remarkable intelligent behaviour from these creatures, the level of their intelligence has yet to be fully understood. This point alone doesn’t explain why I hate them, but this trait in combination with the others below starts to form quite an alarming picture of a creature intelligent enough to actually have the capability to be evil.
- Musth – Periodically male elephants (even domesticated ones) will enter the state of Musth, not much is known about what actually causes it, but what is known is that during it, the elephant has a huge hormonal surge of testosterone that sends the bull into a fit of rage and aggression for weeks or even months. During this state, it will attack, destroy and kill everything in sight, and the majority of human deaths by elephants are a result of this condition, as they kill everyone and everything in their path. The normal practice to stop these attacks is to securely tie the elephant to a sturdy tree as it starts to develop the signs (which handlers are taught to keep an eye out for), or to keep it within a highly secure solitary enclosure, and if these methods fail, or if the symptoms weren’t caught, then the creature is usually shot to save lives and villager livelihood. Because this condition is known about by those who handle elephants, and that we’ve gotten so good at preventing it, the statistics available about the number of murderous rampages perpetrated by elephants has been carefully controlled, but the truth is, without these methods, they would kill everyone they could.
- Vindictiveness – Even when not in a state of Musth, elephants are still among the worlds most dangerous creatures, and are capable of killing any other land mammal, even a Rhino. One of the things most often mentioned about elephants is that they never forget, and not only is this true, but they will also get revenge. There have been many accounts of elephant vindictiveness, after one of their kind have been killed, elephants will retaliate with force against the killer, with entire groups of them attacking villages responsible for culling elephant numbers or even for killing a rogue elephant endangering their homes, going on a rampage until they’ve killed those responsible, or being shot dead themselves.
As a final note, I want to clarify, that when I say I hate elephants, I mean it in the same way as some people may say they hate football hooligans, or gangster rap. It’s not that I want to go out into the world with a big gun and kill them all, I don’t, It’s meant in the sense that I feel the world would be a much better place without them, and maybe after reading this, you’ll start to understand why I hold this view.