It can be hard to fully grasp the plight of animals around the world when you can’t see them in-person and get to know their day-to-day lives. (This is why Ag-Gag laws exist the world-over).

I care deeply about animals and their fair treatment, and know that I don’t do nearly enough to help them.

But there are always details that I read or hear about that puncture my complacency and inspire deep sympathy and remind me that each animal is a wholly unique individual: how cows get stressed and tense up on the way to the slaughterhouse, how elephants line up to mourn the death of another elephant from poaching, how some dolphins drown themselves when in captivity.

Animals share the planet with humans. But humans seem to believe that their many claims to the Earth are greater, and therefore cancel out, other claims to the planet.

So deforestation, pollution, development and other factors devastate ecosystems and push animals to live in inhospitable conditions. Meanwhile, animals are slaughtered all the time for their meat and bodies.

In many countries around the world, poaching has escalated, threatening the existence of some species.

Elephants, specifically, are being terrorized by various groups for their ivory tusks. At their watering holes, while walking along paths they pollinate with their big feet, while playing in mud, while relaxing in shade, elephants are regularly ambushed and hacked to death.

I’ve never seen an elephant in real life. But I know that they’re intelligent, beautiful creatures with deep emotions.

Recently, Google teamed up with Save the Elephant and other groups in Kenya to document the ongoing lives of elephants with their Google Street View technology.

While the footage is wobbly and delayed and a little disorienting--like all of Street View--it provides a moving and fun glimpse of how elephants live and the efforts that are being taken to help them have happy lives.

Go meet Cinnamon and Celery from the Spices family, the Hardwoods family walking to a river, little orphan elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and more.

Fortunately, organizations like the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Save the Elephants are doing great work to protect them. Elsewhere in Africa, the Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit is doing great work, too. 

The more humans learn to respect animals, the more they will learn to respect the environment. And then the more they will learn to respect one another.

For The Global Goals to be achieved, everyone and everything has to work together in harmony. Animals and the environment will play a key role in eliminating global poverty and promoting good lives for all.

By going to TAKE ACTION NOW, you can make sure The Global Goals start on steady ground by calling on world leaders to make strong commitments in the weeks ahead.

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Defend the Planet

Hang with the elephants of Kenya on Google Street View

By Joe McCarthy