thoughts thunk at the i-max

A few weeks back we loaded up the crowd and went to the I-max. This was a first for us in several ways. 1) We don't usually go to theaters with Ella, who only lasts as long as the popcorn, and can eat popcorn almost as fast as her mom and 2) it's a bit on the expensive side when you aren't sure if they will make it through. But thanks to our zoo's new policy of FREE I-max with zoo membership, we figured we'd give it a try. We saw the movie "Born to be Wild: 3D".

First of all, every I-max movie (maybe every single movie ever?) should be narrated by Morgan Freeman. His voice is so unique and familiar at the same time; he did a great job narrating this tale of two separate animal reserves, one for elephants in Kenya and one for orangutans in the rain forests of Borneo. Both of these organizations rescue orphaned or wounded animals, nurse them back to health, and prepare them for eventual release back into the wild. 

The video footage was beautiful. The genuine spirit of the people who dedicate their lives to the work came across in their interaction with the animals and their careful planning in how they treat each one.  The 3D effects were fun. 

There was one aspect about the movie that struck me in particular. As the staff prepared the orangutans for life in the rain forest, they stressed how critical it was to develop a solitary and independent way of life, which is the way of orangutans. They housed them separately, trained them almost individually, and started letting them explore the jungle on their own at a very early point in the program. 

Elephants, on the other hand, must be taught how to live in a herd. They are family animals, living together in large groups that have social structure, specific gender roles, and even a set of customs and communication that guide the way of the herd. In their training, young elephants need to know their place, understand herd dynamics, and learn to dwell in healthy ways within that.

During the show, my mind wandered to our time in the boys home. (Garrett and I were house parents at a home for teenage boys for five years with Release Ministries, where Garrett is currently on staff as Director of Homes. You can read more about that organization and their vision here.) I was thinking about how that venture had some similarities, obviously not raising animals but trying to help prepare adolescents to live successfully on their own. 

And the thought struck me: are we more like orangutans or elephants? As we prepare people to transition to the real world, is it more important that they are individualistic and independent or that they have healthy relationships and can function within a herd

Would you rather have a child who is independent or interdependent? One who needs no one or strongly feels their need for others? It's an interesting question, one that keeps bouncing around in my head as I find ways that my children's independence is increasing (potty training on the horizon) but feel the tension of their inability to navigate disputes with their siblings (in need of herd training).

What do you think?

**The pictures for this post were taken from google/movies here


Teresa said...

A PBS documentary I once watched explored the loss of adult male elephants. The result was adolescent 'brat' elephants that became eventually became dangerous to the rest of the herd. Why? Because there was no bigger male elephants to teach them who was boss. It upset the entire rhythm of the elephant herd, as the younger generation never really grew up.

I have always thought that this is such an interesting real-life problem that can actually be found in other places than just elephant herds.

Becky said...


Dobson sites that same documentary/study in his book Bringing Up Boys! Such an interesting and sad reality.