June 4-2020
(Killing) an Elephant: Pain and protests by animation, comics and illustration community

‘The World’s most dangerous animal’ at The Bronx Zoo

I don’t remember how old I was, when I read a detective story in Bengali titled, Machi (Fly). The author’s name I can’t recall. But one thing that remained with me, as for the first time, I came to know of the ‘The World’s most dangerous animal’ through it.

In 1963, the Illustrated London News published about an exhibition at the gorilla house at The Bronx Zoo in New York City. The exhibit told visitors:

“You are looking at the most dangerous animal in the world. It alone of all the animals that ever lived can exterminate (and has) entire species of animals. Now it has the power to wipe out all life on earth.” That dangerous animal is – HUMANS!

Coming across this incident of a pregnant elephant being mercilessly killed by feeding her a pineapple filled with crackers in Kerala, my thoughts automatically ran back to that story I read. Nothing has changed since then! Set in a circus, that story was also about how the culprit (a man of course) with the help of a Tse-Tse fly killed a few animals out of envy. I’m also reminded of George Orwell’s Shooting an Elephant where he grievingly portrays how he was ‘forced’ to kill the elephant so that he doesn’t make a fool of himself in front of the native dwellers.

Amid the COVID outbreak, cyclones and everything else that’s happening around us, most humans around the world have forgotten to be humane. But thankfully, the rest of the species is still having conscience. And thus, protests, criticisms and shaming posts have overflowed social media. Protest Art, that’s grabbing more eyeballs nowadays has voiced against the heinous crime of Animal abuse. Animators, comic artists and illustrators from India have also not shied away from raising a voice.

Here are few that ache our hearts yet is important to be out there :

Phani Tetali – Animator, Professor at IDC School of Design, IIT Bombay

“I never thought I would draw her sobbing. Shame on us!” he captioned his post.

Aniket Mitra – Independent animator and Illustrator

He told AnimationXpress, “We worship the Elephant God (Ganesha) in India. The biggest and most colorful festival takes place at Vadakkumnathan temple in Thrissur and is called Thrissur Pooram. Still she died with so much pain and grief. A mother had believed us. But we betrayed her. We deserve viruses. We have become monsters. What nature mother is doing to us, is absolutely correct!”

Mahfuj Ali – Comic artist and illustrator at MAli’s

“I saw the news headline in the morning, but could not gather my courage to open the news and check the details. Just felt too sad and made a happy picture of the mother elephant and her kid in heaven, really god’s own country, ironically we call Kerala by that name. I have a special connection with Elephants. I spent almost a year researching the Ecology of elephant corridors in North Bengal, where Elephants get killed on railway tracks and in large numbers. The problem is much bigger than this incident. I Hope humanity comes together and prevents such incidents in future,” said Ali.

Abhinandan Banerjee – Graphic Artist 

Commented Banerjee, “In this age of digital sensationalism, you never know what may become the news of the nation. Animal cruelty is not a new thing. It is a part of the world wide calamity against nature by us, the humans on a daily basis. Eventually this particular incident became a news. Another evident example of radical behaviour against nature. I think fear is the only key to chain human behaviours to some extent. The fear of suffering may hold them back from the inhuman instincts? Hence Alan Moore’s words came in rescue: “The only verdict is vengeance.” It’s not a time to showcase our art to spread the news and become popular with the help of media and social media. It is time to take a stand against the wrong doings by humans. Art is a tool of support for me. I want my art to come in help functionally instead of showcasing populist events and artistic capabilities.  Though we don’t know the real story apart from what was being told by the media, we need to dig it more and this issue should see the light of judgment in a proper way. Hence, to support the petition which appeals for a verdict against this incident- the artwork happened.”

Krishnendu Mondal – Illustrator 

“Recently heard about the incident in Kerala and it is so painful to imagine the elephant’s situation when she ate the pineapple with explosives! The fault of her is only to believe in “humans”(!) India is an country where we worship women and elephants and all other animals, but we can’t ensure their security properly! It is a very tough time, “hard to believe” someone or something! This is not our dream world,” added he. 

Reetuparna Dey – Comic artist and Illustrator

Dey captioned her work, “When you type “pineapple” on Google search bar now, the kerela murder case of the 19 year old pregnant elephant shows up. Once again we humans have done the impossible. We’ve robbed pineapples of their innocence. I still haven’t been able to absorb this news. To murder a young elephant while being completely unprovoked. Sometimes I wonder if we have brought the 2020 calamities upon ourselves.”

Satish Acharya – Illustrator

Abhishek Singh – Image Comics professional

“A part of us died reading this. This news hits deep, rips and pierces through the last vestige of anything good remaining in us. For once we can let go of our differences, for things we all can share are rare and few nowadays. To stand by her love, learn and to be better,” he wrote.

Besides these, we pick a few more artworks that we like – 

 

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এইটুকু মনুষ্যত্ব তো ওদেরও থাকে 🙂 #as_a_human_being_i_am_ashamed

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Animal abuse is a heinous crime and it needs to STOP! Any form of human brutality needs to STOP!
We failed you Amba (the elephant)! Rest in a better world!