This is Chris Wang, an actor, model, singer and writer from Taiwan.
Wang recently traveled to Chitwan National Park in Nepal with his wife, Lin Yi-xian – who is five-months pregnant – and their daughter Lei-zhen for the couple's belated wedding shoot.
In a Facebook post on Sunday, Wang said that the couple – who were initially against riding elephants – decided to include them in their wedding photos after discovering how crucial elephants were to locals.
After the shoot, Wang said as he was thanking the elephant – which had been silent the whole time – the animal looked at him with sadness and tears in its eyes.
"I will never forget that look," he wrote, before pledging never to touch an elephant that has been domesticated for human entertainment again.
The couple then decided to forgo the photos of them with the elephants, but wanted to share their story "because they don't want to see any elephant exist solely for the purpose of human entertainment."
Today Lei's mom and I took our first wedding photos, but ultimately we decided that we must give up on these particular photos.
As soon as we arrived in Chitwan National Park, we spoke about elephants. Because the streets were almost filled with them, and lots of families have their own elephants. But we decided we wouldn't ride them or pay for them, because we felt really sorry for them.
However, after we came into contact with the locals, we discovered just how important elephants were to them. As there are bears, tigers and even leopards in the Chitwan jungle, humans cannot safely enter it without riding an elephant. So besides national park management or the rehabilitation of white rhinos, they are very dependent on elephants (The Chitwan area's rehabilitation plan has successfully relocated white rhinos to other habitats, and they have started to breed more), because they can arrest illegal poachers and ban deforestation. So at the time we thought, seeing as elephants were so important to Chitwan, then yes, we should invite them to appear in our Chitwan wedding photos!
But... when we finished the shoot, I finally understood why no one feels it is inhumane to ride a cow or a horse, but do feel sorry for domesticated elephants. Because elephants are just too intelligent. It knows deep down that it is being controlled. It also completely understands that humans control its weakness.
During the shoot, while we stood next to the elephant, stroking it and thanking it, it didn't say anything. But when the shoot finished, it suddenly looked at me with tears in its eyes. I will never forget that look. I felt that it had a lot it wanted to say, and I also felt that although it didn't intend on resisting, it felt very sad. Maybe it has the power to face all sorts of wild beasts. But it is humans who it cannot break away from. Because it knows what the consequences are of going ballistic and seeking revenge, so it continues to bear this suffering. At the time, I only said to it, "Thank you for all of your hard work today. The universe needs you. Everyone needs you." But in my heart I actually felt very sad. Because I knew I couldn't do anything to help it, just like facing a patient with an incurable disease, I didn't know what I could do to help it.
So we decided not to use these photos but to share this story publicly, because I don't want to see any elephant exist solely for the purpose of human entertainment. If it has to live a life with the locals, I don't oppose, but if it is solely for the entertainment and service for others, at least I can say that I will not touch them... I will never touch them again.
Thank you, elephants. You give the world a lot of power. I hope that you will live and grow, and that one day, you will be able to walk the path that you want to.