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This is a tale of two lives. The first, an elephant’s life in the United States, as a traveling Ringling Brothers entertainer. The second, an elephant’s life in Africa, an integral member of a roaming, socially structured herd.

According to elephant expert Dr. Joyce Poole, on an average day, elephants travel between 5 and 9 miles, in the wild.

According to, a Ringling Brothers elephant travels more than 16,000 miles each year, inside a train car.

Which is the Greatest Show on Earth? You decide:


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EarthDesk is grateful to Petter Granli and Joyce Poole, co-directors of ElephantVoices, for allowing us to include “Elephant Play Behavior,” the second video above, narrated by Dr. Poole.

ElephantVoices uses knowledge acquired over decades to act as a voice for elephants. In the wild, ivory poaching, destruction of habitat, competition with people for diminishing resources, sport hunting, culling and capture all threaten the freedom and survival of elephants. In captivity their well being is affected by abusive practices and exploitation for commercial gain.

Through research, education, conservation and advocacy ElephantVoices promotes the protection and kinder treatment of elephants wherever they may be. As acknowledged experts on the natural behavior of elephants ElephantVoices offers insight to protect them and the authority to speak on their behalf.

More on ElephantVoices here.

More on Dr. Joyce Poole and Petter Granli here.

A National Geographic article on Poole and Granli’s work here.