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About That Elephant

August 07, 1994

I couldn't help but feel disgusted by Susan Olenick's criticism of the "My Best Shot" of the painted elephant (Letters, July 17). Has she been in India and has she seen it? I have. This custom has been going on for centuries with no harm to the skin of the animal. I agree that our children should be taught respect toward our environment, and it should start with graffiti and vandalism, which doesn't exist in India.

EVA BEALL, Glendale

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In India, elephants and human beings have worked together for millennia. And just like the rider and his or her horse (should we also ban photos of saddled and bedecked horses?), the people who work with elephants have a great deal of love and respect for them. And Ganesh, the boy god with the elephant head, is one of the most beloved Hindu gods.

RICHARD HARRIS, Pasadena

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Regarding Olenick's letter and the letter objecting to Norway's whaling practices (July 24): Oh, we are such purists in the United States. It seems every week someone has to pick apart other cultures and livelihoods. Do these same people realize that we no longer have grizzly bears, wolves, bison, wild mustangs and pronghorn antelope running free? Let's re-evaluate our own circumstances before we lash out at other countries.

JAN MILLER, Hermosa Beach

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The photos that are chosen for the Travel section give readers a great insight into other cultures. Olenick's letter did not take into account that these pictures are not representative of practices that are condoned by The Times, or even our culture.

SUSAN SAN CINELO, San Dimas

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Olenick doesn't understand how India reveres the elephant. Perhaps the story my father told me would enlighten her:

Outside his hotel in New Delhi's elegant diplomatic enclave, my father noticed an elephant in the parking lot, attended by a devoted keeper. My father asked the hotel staff what the elephant was doing there. "Why, sir," said the desk clerk, "he lives there. That's his home."

If Olenick feels disgusted and shocked by India's respect, she must realize how the elephant is treated in the West. Believe me, the animal is better off in India.

LENORE GREINER, Vista

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OK, Susan, you've made your point. Now, put away your lipstick, mascara, eyebrow pencil and all those other goodies you have stashed in your handbag.

D.C. TUBBS, Fullerton

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