[Excerpted from an article in the Dec 1990 Smithsonian magazine about a zoo elephant who paints] When she was 7 months old, Ruby was shipped to the Phoenix Zoo. Still being bottle-fed, she was exhibited in the children's section and became its major attraction. She thrived physically but not, it seems, spiritually. In retrospect, a major problem was that for seven years Ruby was the zoo's only elephant. By nature extremely social creatures, elephants suffer if deprived of companions, but isolation is probably especially hard on very young animals. For whatever reasons -- isolation, disrupted education, insensitive keepers -- Ruby developed some odd and, for people, unpleasant habits. Among other things, she played sadistically with ducks and geese who wandered into her enclosure. Using grain from her food trough, Ruby lured them toward her. When one came close enough, she surreptitiously raised a front foot and then brought it down quickly, stomping the unfortunate bird to a pulp. She masturbated frequently, at times almost incessantly. Perhaps because they were the only vaguely elephantlike things she ever saw, Ruby became enamored, clinically, of dump trucks, bulldozers, and other large lurching machines. When one came near, she became ver excited -- she squealed and pranced. One morning, a backhoe operator drove into the elephant area. When she spotted the "attractive" machine she charged and attempted to mount it. "The poor guy was terrified. Who wouldn't be? At least he turned off the motor before he ran."
(From the "Rest" of RHF)
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