What happens when this 7-year-old elephant reunites with its mom? Love wins.

7-year-old elephant Me­Bai hadn't seen her mother in over three years.

But that didn't matter when they were finally reunited. Their bond was immediately visible to everyone watching — and mesmerizing to the millions who tuned in after their video hit the web.


GIF from ElephantNews/YouTube.

Why? Maybe it was the overwhelming cuteness of it all. Maybe it was the incredible story. Or maybe it was the quiet beauty of a creature whose instincts to mother, love, and nurture know no bounds.

But behind the video — before the joyous squeals and the affectionate intertwining of trunks — is a dark and ugly backstory.

Me­Bai was recently rescued from her life as a slave to the Thai tourist industry, where she was forced to carry tourists for hours at a time.


Photo by Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images.

There are thousands of others just like her that haven't yet been saved.

Elephants like MeBai are taken from their mothers at an early age and forced to march with heavy tourists strapped to their backs long before their bodies are strong enough to handle the rigors of such a job.

If you want to see how bad it really is, take a look at this photograph. (You probably shouldn't.)

For years and years, they're bull­hooked. They're over­worked. They're underfed.

And worst of all? They might be the lucky ones.

In other parts of the world — parts much closer to home than Thailand — elephants are subject to entirely different kinds of torture.

Photo by Angela N./Flickr.

We think of zoos as conservationist habitats — safe harbors for the hunted and the threatened. But the truth is, many elephants in zoos around the world are kept isolated and alone for years at a time.

It's enough to drive anyone insane.

Elephants are famously mistreated and abused in some of the world's biggest circuses (though it's worth noting that Ringling Bros. has promised to phase out elephant acts by 2018).

The common factor, no matter where these elephants end up, is that if you want to make 6,000­-pound wild animals do your bidding, you first have to snuff out their spirit. You have to break them emotionally, which can cause these gentle creatures to suffer from severe PTSD and depression.

Is the problem too big to overcome? Thanks to organizations like the Elephant Nature Park in Northern Thailand, the answer is a resounding "No."

Spend enough time reading articles or watching graphic videos, and you just might start to feel like the elephants: Hopeless. Overwhelmed. Powerless.

But places like the Elephant Nature Park are doing amazing work, fighting to rescue these majestic animals. And it's helping.

Here's the proof: Kham Paam, a battered but rehabilitated elephant, became a loving nanny to a young member of her new herd at the Elephant Nature Park.

Then there's Seree, another tourist-industry rescue, who joined a brand-new family back in November after escaping a life of hard labor.

And, of course, there's MeBai, seen here with her mother. Reunited at last.

GIF from Elephant News/YouTube.

While elephants like MeBai may never be able to return to the wild, they've been able to find happiness in their new homes.

Because of their unending capacity for love and compassion, somehow they're able to put these atrocities behind them and start again.

This video of Me­Bai reuniting with her mother is, in many ways, proof that love really does conquer all — and that the elephants won't go down without a fight.

As long as some of us are willing to fight along with them.

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As part of its promise for a brighter world, Dole is partnering with Bye Bye Plastic Bags's efforts to bring sunshine to all.

Visit www.sunshineforall.com to learn more.

Who would have thought that giving the world access to all human knowledge via the internet, the ability to follow and hear from experts on any subject via social media, and the ability to see what's happening anywhere in the world via smartphones with cameras would result in a terrifying percentage of the population believing and spouting nothing but falsehoods day in and day out?

Those of us who value facts, reason, and rational thought have found ourselves at some of our fellow citizens and thinking, "Really? THIS is how you choose to use the greatest tool humanity has ever created? To spew unfounded conspiracy theories?"

It's a marvel, truly.

Between Coronavirus/Bill Gates/5G conspiracies and QAnon/Evil Cabal/Pedophile conspiracies, I thought we were pretty much full up on kooky for 2020. But apparently not. The massive fires up and down the West Coast have ignited even more conspiracy theories, some of which local law enforcement and even the FBI have had to debunk.

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In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

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Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

I worked as a substitute teacher in my early 20s, almost exclusively in middle schools and high schools—my age of specialty. Once, I accepted a two-day subbing assignment in a first grade classroom. Only once. Halfway through the first day, as the kids ate lunch in the cafeteria, I sat at the teacher's desk in an exhausted daze. Teaching little kids was a completely different animal than teaching big kids. While adorable, they had so many needs and so little attention span. It was like herding a bunch of flies that constantly needed to go potty.

Trying to herd those flies virtually during a pandemic is too much to even fathom.

So the real-time story that mom and writer Stephanie Lucianovic shared on Twitter of what happened when her son's second grade teacher dropped from the class Zoom call was not the least bit surprising. Hilariously entertaining, but not surprising.

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Katie Neeves (L) photo by Jayne Walsh, JK Rowling (R) photo by Sjhill, CC BY-SA 3.0

Dear JK Rowling,

I am writing this letter to say a big thank you to you. You may think it strange that a gobby trans woman such as me would wish to thank you after all your recent transphobic outpourings, but let me explain…

I certainly don't thank you for your lengthy essay last month where you describe the abuse you have suffered (for which you have my sympathy) and in which you stated that you do not hate trans people, while at the same time peddling even more anti-trans mis-information. Sadly, your diatribe directly caused some trans children to self-harm and other to attempt suicide.

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