How and Why I’m Going Bananas For Elephants

By: John Shepler

I’m turning 65 this June. It’s a big birthday. One that justifies a big celebration. But instead of collecting more stuff (the house is already overflowing), I’ve decided to dedicate my birthday to a personal passion, improving the lives of elephants.
Version 2Elephants are Hurting in Asia
Elephants are hard at work in Asian countries, such as Thailand. Just like people, elephants get sick and injured on the job.Unlike people, there aren’t hospitals and quick care medical centers around every corner. There is one hospital just for elephants, though. This is the Friends of the Asian Elephant hospital in Lampang, Thailand. It’s the world’s first hospital dedicated to treating elephants for as long as they need it. It’s also unique in that the mahouts that work one on one with the elephants are invited to stay at the hospital while their elephant is being cared for, at no charge for mahout or elephant.

It Costs a Lot to Care For Elephants
In my conversations with Soraida Salwala, the founder of the FAE hospital, I learned that just the food to care for the elephants staying at FAE is an expensive proposition. These eles are large and so are their appetites. They consume up to 3 tons per day of grass and bananas, depending on how many patients there are. This includes 1,700 hands of bananas per week that costs about 10,200 Thai Baht or around $340 USD. Grass and Bananas together cost $1,631 per week. And then there’s medicine, doctors, caregivers and facility expenses. All of this has to be provided by generous donations from supporters worldwide.

The Let’s Go Bananas Campaign
I’d love to raise funds that cover all the costs of feeding and  caring for the elephant at FAE, but I thought that a good start would be a campaign that would pay for at least the bananas. Some quick mental math says that one donation of $65 for each day in the month of June would easily cover the cost of the banana deliveries plus a little extra. $65 x 30 days in the month comes out to $1950. That’s a lucky coincidence because 1950 was the year I was born. Seems cosmically ordained, doesn’t it?

How the Fundraiser Works
I’ve set up a fundraiser on CrowdRise to make the process of donating fast and easy. It’s called, as you might suspect, “Going Bananas for Elephants”. I’m asking for $65 from everyone who would like to contribute, but this is not a hard and fast number. If it’s too much, a smaller contribution will also be appreciated. Of course, if you’d like to go bananas too, multiples of $65 will provide even more care for the elephants. The basic idea is to reach or exceed the $1950 goal by the end of June and send the collected funds to Soraida at FAE to support the operation of the hospital. I am going to match the first $650 in donations at the end of the month and add that to the total as a bonus.

You can visit my fundraiser page at https://www.crowdrise.com/goingbananasforelephants or use the CrowdRise widget on this page. Just click on the big orange button that says “Donate to this Fundraiser.” Your name and donation will be added to the rotating honor roll of donors and you can see how close we are coming to the $1950 goal.

Please note that CrowdRise accepts all major credit cards. If you would prefer to contribute via PayPal, contact me and I’ll send you details. If you are planning a large corporate or organizational donation, please contact me in advance to make arrangements (ongoing).

Your Help is Very Important
Think we can do it? Will we meet the fundraising goal of $1950 by the end of the month? Well, your contribution will certainly help and I urge you to go ahead an make it now before you get busy with other things. Another way you can make a big difference is to spread word of this fundraiser far and wide using your social media accounts for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and personal email lists. If you know anyone who is sympathetic to the plight of elephants, please give them the chance to participate. These contributions really will make a difference in the lives of elephants and their mahouts who need the care only Friends of the Asian Elephant hospital can provide.

July 1, 2FundraiserAnnouncement015 Update
The amazing enthusiasm and participation of everyone who supported this fundraiser in June pushed us well past the goal and up to ….. drumroll, please… $3,065, which is over 100, 000 THB at today’s conversion rate.

I’ve sent your contributions on to Soraida at FAE, but I’m leaving the “Go Bananas” fundraiser open for the indefinite future. Why? I know some of you who would like to have donated didn’t hear about the campaign in time or had other commitments that prevented you from making a contribution during the month of June. You are still in luck! CrowdRise will graciously accept your credit card donations and I will send you the PayPal address upon request. Funds collected will be periodically forwarded to Friends of the Asian Elephant hospital in Thailand. Thank you so much for your support!

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