+

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.

Pop Culture

She bought the perfect wedding dress that went viral on TikTok. It was only $3.75

Lynch is part of a growing line of newlyweds going against the regular wedding tradition of spending loads of money.

Making a priceless memory

Upon first glance, one might think that Jillian Lynch wore a traditional (read: expensive) dress to her wedding. After all, it did look glamorous on her. But this 32-year-old bride has a secret superpower: thrifting.

Lynch posted her bargain hunt on TikTok, sharing that she had been perusing thrift shops in Ohio for four days in a row, with the actual ceremony being only a month away. Lynch then displays an elegant ivory-colored Camila Coelho dress. Fitting perfectly, still brand new and with the tags on it, no less.

You can find that exact same dress on Revolve for $220. Lynch bought it for only $3.75.
Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 08.21.18


Addie Rodriguez was supposed to take the field with her dad during a high school football game, where he, along with other dads, would lift her onto his shoulders for a routine. But Addie's dad was halfway across the country, unable to make the event.

Her father is Abel Rodriguez, a veteran airman who, after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was training at Travis Air Force Base in California, 1,700 miles from his family in San Antonio at the time.

"Mom missed the memo it was parent day, and the reason her mom missed the memo was her dad left Wednesday," said Alexis Perry-Rodriguez, Addie's mom. She continued, "It was really heartbreaking to see your daughter standing out there being the only one without their father, knowing why he's away. It's not just an absentee parent. He's serving our country."

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.