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The Spill: Helping Mahouts

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Finding Food for Elephants

The Coronavirus pandemic has been hard for places that need tourists to make money. Limits of travel have affected the animal as well, as many creatures eat restaurant scraps. In Nepal, elephants work hard giving rides to tourists. These majestic creatures need a lot of food, but with no tourists around, elephant owners say they can’t find enough food for the animals.

One answer was to let these creatures into Chitwan National Park, where they are not normally allowed. The national park is a famous and popular tourist attraction because of its wildlife like rhinos, tigers, and wild elephants. Privately owned elephants are now allowed inside the park during the day to graze, but these giant creatures eat for about 20 hours a day, it was still a problem to get them food at night.

Luckily, Carol Buckley’s organization, Elephant Aid International (EAI), came up with an idea that not only gave the elephants enough food, but it helped local farmers too. Since restaurants have closed, many farmers had to let their crops rot without enough customers to buy them. EAI helped the farmers get workers to harvest the fields and then sell the produce to elephant owners.

Buckley said, “Seeing them [the elephants] enjoy the delicious produce is heartwarming. Working together with the farmers, locals, and mahouts [elephant riders and keepers] has improved the lives of these hard working elephants.” She added, “It is a joy to know that our efforts are pleasing to the elephants and their mahouts.”

Returning a Stolen Relic

History is an important part of our present and future. Unfortunately, ancient artifacts are worth a lot of money on the black market. A lot of precious relics have been sold to private collectors and companies. One artifact has been found and will be returned to the country of Iraq, where it was stolen from an archaeological dig many years ago.

The Gilgamesh Dream Tablet is made of hard clay and dates back to around 1600 B.C. The writing on it is cuneiform, an ancient writing system of wedge-shaped characters. On the tablet is part of the Gilgamesh poem where the hero describes his dreams to his mother. It is one of the oldest pieces of writing. It was discovered in 1853 in Iraq.

Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts store, got in trouble for buying the Gilgamesh Tablet and had to return it to Iraq. It turns out the tablet was looted by Iraqi soldiers during a war in the 1990s.

After Hobby Lobby bought the tablet, the police found it in the museum. They are trying to make the store return the tablet to Iraq.

Michigan Devastated by Floods

On March 19, people in Michigan got a shock due to floods. The Edenville Dam and the Sanford Dam collapsed about 140 miles north of Detroit. A dam is built across a river or lake to stop or slow down water passing. When the dams collapsed, too much water got through and flooded the area. Heavy rainfall also caused the floods, in part.

The Tittabawassee River reached more than 35 feet in height by the morning of May 20. Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared an emergency. More than 10,000 people were evacuated. Teams screened people at shelters to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

In a time of crisis, people show how generous they can be. Dwayne Richard and his family showed this as they drove 19 hours from Lafayette, Louisiana, on Memorial Day to cook for the victims of the flood.

Richard was injured and he promised that if he could ever get out of his wheelchair, he would help others. He kept his oath. His family drove to Michigan and made a nice meal of gumbo for the flood victims.

Mayor Maureen Donker of Midland was impressed that people came together in a crisis. She said, “If you would see our streets, it’s so sad. You’re seeing families and their whole house out on the curb … But it’s also beautiful – in that you can really see how people care and work to take care of one another.”

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