Elephant Forget Me Not - A Charming, Educational Exhibit at the National Museum of Animals and Society

Kids' corner - envelopes hold facts about elephants (Photo by Georja Umano)

Lindsay Scoby Morgan, curator of the new exhibit Elephant Forget Me Not at the National Museum of Animals and Society, wanted to make sure her project was family and kid friendly. So although the contents of the exhibit examine the elephant from many angles - including history, statistics, plight, captivity, and dangers - she was sure not to include any graphic imagery or video that was too violent or horrific. (It is sad to reflect, however, that the elephant has met with many violent and horrific adventures from his fellow creatures, human beings.)

 

Lindsay Scoby Morgan (Photo by Billy Bennight)

There are interactive videos, photos, posters, paintings, books, artwork, writings on the wall, as well as artifacts - many of them antique.  For the kids, there is a kids’ corner, which includes books, art projects, origami, a chalkboard, written messages, a collection of baby elephant memorabilia and more. The exhibit is mostly aimed at the average person, from all different walks of life, who likes elephants and yet really knows little of their historic place in the world. Families can come with their kids and all walk away with some amazing information they can build on. 

 

How to describe an elephant (Photo by Sarah Jane Hardt)

Although the museum is small, the amount of information collected is big, so you should allow an hour and a half to really examine the information presented, look at the videos and infographics, and read much of the content. Meanwhile the kids won’t be bored and can make origami elephants and drawings and look through the books.

Indian Temple Toy (Photo by Georja Umano)

One thing Morgan is most proud of is the clear presentation of what it means for elephants to be a "keystone species."  This could be the most important part of the exhibit.  Many people have heard this term but don’t realize that the very life of an elephant in the wild creates vital ecosystems that the Earth needs.

 

Chalkboard for kids (Photo by Georja Umano)

Elephants are always eating and always moving around. They have been known to walk over a hundred miles a day. So the plants and seeds they eat are fertilized in their bodies, and as they poop them out, those seeds go right back to the earth and create new plants and trees and forests. Elephants create rainforests, which become habitats for themselves and other animals, along with clean the air for all of us.  This circle of life is illustrated by a short video with simple drawings which all can understand.

 

Museum Director Carolyn Merino Mullin welcomes the attendees(Photo by Billy Bennight)

For those of us who are elephant lovers and advocates, there are some artifacts that some may not notice as much but are heart-wrenching.  There is an antique bull hook, very much like the implements of torture and “training” today, used on elephants unlucky enough to get stuck in the human entertainment business. 

Ancient bull hook, implement of torture for elephants (Photo by Georja Umano)

The bullhook, or ankus as it is sometimes called, has an extremely sharp hook and a heavy metallic heel. The hook is pierced into the elephant’s most sensitive thin-skin areas - around its eyes, ears and anus and is extremely painful.  Just the sight of one can make an elephant do unnatural things with its body such as standing on its head, just to avoid the excruciating pain. The heel is used for beating her.

 

Man's inhumanity to elephants: chain and ivory (Photo by Sarah Jane Hardt)

There is also a heavy wooden carved chair, which, not clearly marked at the opening, has been used in India to give elephant rides on the elephant's sensitive back. And there is also a case with a real foot chain and an ivory necklace, but no explanation.

 

Savage the movie (Photo by Sarah Jane Hardt)

There are posters for an old movie, "Savage" about an imaginary elephant. Those of us who have studied elephants and have been around them would never call them savage. They are the most gentle, compassionate loving beings when left alone. So this type of move is bad press for our beloved pachyderms, propagated by the same people who get off on hunting them, capturing and enslaving them. There is also a huge poster advertizing a circus in London.

Genesis reads her poem "Elephants" (Photo by Sarah Jane Hardt)

At the opening night of the exhibit, there was music and storytelling, and an anti-cruelty elephant poem by a 7-year-old wonder named Genesis Butler.

 

Kikanza Ramsey-Ray, storyteller (Photo by Sarah Jane Hardt)

During the course of the exhibit, which will be up until November 30, more programs are planned.

 

Kids love Kikanza's elephant story (Photo by Georja Umano)

Morgan, with her partner Patrick Sabatini, has started a nonprofit organization, “I Left My Heart In Kenya,” where she raises money and helps educate farmers whose crops are in danger of being eaten by elephants.  Simple solutions such as chili peppers on fenceposts and beehives can help keep the grey ones at bay.

Sophia Brister sings "Elephant Story," accompanied by Aaron Oswald (Photo by Sarah Jane Hardt)

She, along with many of the activists who were present at the opening night of the exhibit, are contributing to the upcoming Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions LA on October 4.  On every continent and in more than 116 cities, people will be marching to save the elephant and other wildlife from extinction at the hands of humans.

Elephant activists Caroline Merino Mullins, Janet Ehrlich, Kat Kramer, Georja Umano, Lindsay Scoby Morgan (Photo by Sarah Jane Hardt)

People can continue the education started at the museum and bring the kids out for an educational festival at the LaBrea Tar Pits, followed by a march down Wilshire to the South African consulate, and then a rally, which includes African drumming, Kat Kramer singing "Bless the Beasts and the Children," and the Agape Youth Choir. At this rally people will learn of the imminent dangers to the wildlife of Africa and find out what we can do about it.

 

Kat Kramer introduces act at exhibit opening (Photo by Billy Bennight)

We are lucky to live in Los Angeles, which has many activities to save animals.  This exhibit is an enjoyable, nonthreatening welcome to the world of elephant. Don’t miss it!

Brit-Tanya, friendly bartender makes the event brighter (Photo by Georja Umano)

 

Georja Umano  is an actress and elephant activist.

 

The National Museum of Animals and Society

Elelephant Forget Me Not

4302 Melrose Ave

Los Angeles,s CA

 (323) 928 2352

Now through Nov. 30

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