Camp, 4th October 2023: On the occasion of World Animal Day, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India introduced a life-sized animatronic elephant named Ellie as part of their Child Empathy Initiative at St. Mary’s School in Pune.
Ellie, brought to life by the voice of actress Dia Mirza, captures the essence of a living elephant through realistic eye movements and ear flapping while narrating the poignant stories of elephants separated from their mothers as infants and subjected to cruel treatment in circuses. Ellie’s narrative ultimately concludes on a heartwarming note, highlighting her rescue and happy life in a sanctuary.
PETA India, guided by the principle that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or subject to abuse in any form,” strongly opposes speciesism, the viewpoint that places humans above other species.
Meenakshi Narang, Senior Education Coordinator at PETA India, stated, “Elephants are highly social, emotional, and intelligent creatures that endure immense suffering when subjected to chaining, beatings, and forced performances for human entertainment. Ellie and PETA India are encouraging everyone to pledge never to patronize circuses or other venues that exploit animals and to allow elephants to live in tranquillity with their families in their natural habitats.”
Pooja Mahajan, Director of Education and Youth Outreach at PETA India, shared that Ellie’s tour commenced in Pune at St. Mary’s School, where she interacted with nearly 1,000 primary-grade students, imparting a crucial message about why elephants and other animals should not be used for entertainment in circuses or rides.
Mahajan further elaborated, “We plan to take Ellie to approximately nine schools, where she will continue her mission until the 14th of October, reaching thousands of primary-grade students. We hope that this experience instills compassion among young students, fostering kind and empathetic attitudes toward animals. Following Pune, our next destination is Delhi.”
Caroline Ross, the Principal of St. Mary’s School, expressed, “On World Animal Day, we found it fitting to collaborate with PETA India for the Pune launch of Ellie the Elephant. The primary aim of this initiative is to sensitize children towards empathy for animals and their welfare. Ellie’s lifelike appearance and captivating storytelling engaged our children, leaving them inspired.”
RJ Ayush from 94.3 Radio One, who attended the event, praised PETA India’s initiative, particularly Ellie’s lifelike portrayal and emotional expression. He conveyed, “PETA India’s message on World Animal Day is that we should exhibit compassion towards animals. This message is especially important for children, and they should spread love. Congratulations to PETA India.”
Neha Vaz, PETA Volunteer Pune, commended PETA India’s endeavor to provide hands-on experiential learning for children. She noted the positive impact of the workshop on children’s mindset and psyche, expressing enthusiasm for Ellie’s future visits to all the schools.
Captive elephants used for entertainment purposes, including circuses, rides, weddings, and ceremonies, endure brutal treatment and are often kept in chains. This confinement leads to frustration, posing a threat to humans. They receive inadequate sustenance, water, and veterinary care, leading to painful foot issues, as well as bone and joint ailments like arthritis due to prolonged standing on hard concrete surfaces.
In addition to Ellie’s tour, PETA India conducts a complimentary humane education program called Compassionate Citizen, aimed at helping students aged 8 to 12 gain a better understanding and appreciation for animals. This program has been adopted by over 2 lakh schools, benefiting approximately 92 million children throughout India.
Actress Dia Mirza inaugurated Ellie on 5th May at Jamnabai Narsee International School, Mumbai. Since then, Ellie has engaged with over 27,000 young learners across various private, public, and international schools in Mumbai.
Now, Ellie is set to interact with numerous children in esteemed schools in Pune, scheduled from 5th to 14th October, including St Mary’s School, CP Goenka International, Billabong High International, Little Millennium, Bharati Vidyapeeth, Siddhant International, Victorious Kidss Educares, and Crimson Anisha Global.