When she was 14 years old, Juliette West set out from California on a quest that would take her through Thailand to learn everything she could about the elephants and their plight. A small camera crew joined her, and the result is a movie that’s touching hearts and fueling action in the United States and around the world.
Early on in her journey, Juliette meets Asia’s famous “Elephant Lady,” Lek Chailert, who has risked her life and freedom for more than 30 years to protect elephants from illegal trade and abuse. Together, these two determined women from opposite ends of the earth work to save elephants, stopping at nothing to expose the dark secrets within entertainment and logging industries that are steeped in greed and corruption. Together, these two determined women from opposite ends of the earth have had some impressive successes protecting elephants.
The two women have had some impressive successes. But elephants, as we know, are still being captured to meet the demands of increasing tourism and entertainment in countries such as Thailand, where they are severely mistreated and suffer malnutrition. Thousands more are pressed into hard labor in Myanmar to support the logging industry. As a result, wild populations are plummeting – from 100,000 at the start of the 20th century to a mere 5,500 today.
For Juliette, now 18 years old and still at high school, the elephants have become her life’s work. She gives talks around the country, providing youth with the tools they can use to develop their own leadership abilities as effective animal advocates. On her own website, JulietteSpeaks, young people can find answers to their biggest question: “How Can I Help?”
Back home in Los Angeles, she has been part of the successful campaign to ban bullhooks from the city, and part of the ongoing campaign to provide better living conditions for Billy the Elephant in the LA Zoo.
How I Became an Elephant has become the cornerstone of an inspiring program to save the world’s elephants before time runs out on them. Here at the Kimmela Center, we’re delighted to be able to provide the movie to you at less than half the price of commercial sources. Just click on any of the links on the video above. You can rent the movie (subtitled in numerous languages) for $5.99 or for $10.99 for the Director’s Cut Deluxe edition with deleted scenes, etc. Or buy the physical DVD professionally packaged for $19.99 (also subtitled in numerous languages).