Did you know that elephants can live more than 100 years? That some of their favorite foods are bananas and watermelon? That many elephants in Thailand are taken from the wild be used in the tourist industry to entertain people? That they have very delicate backs, are not meant to carry people, and that the lucky ones are rescued to live out their lives in protected elephant parks?
These were just some of the elephant facts that Kindergarten Teacher Olivia Siegels shared with her class today through a read-aloud of “Elephants of Thailand: The Smiling Elephant” (by Aston Heath, 2018), and a slide show of photos from her trip to Thailand made possible by a grant from the Curtis Educational Travel Fellowship.
During her travels, Ms. Siegels visited several different elephant and exotic animal preserves with the purpose of observing firsthand how the pressures of increasing tourism are affecting Thailand’s elephants and other native species and what efforts are being made to protect them. Ms. Siegels is using her experience in Thailand to help guide our students to be conscientious citizens who care for our world and all its inhabitants. Her students were drawn into the world of elephants by the stories she told of feeding and caring for these amazing animals and the beautiful photos she had taken of them. The students were deeply curious, asked many good questions and had many comments about all aspects of elephants and their teacher's story of her time in Thailand.