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Battle for the Elephants gets support in Houston

The Houston Zoo and FreeseMediaGroup will host the Battle for the Elephants, an award winning documentary for National Geographic by director and producer, John Heminway, producer Katie Carpenter and Dr. Peter Li from University of Houston , Downtown on January 23, 2014.

Elephants in their natural environment
Elephants in their natural environment, the beneficiary of the event, has boots on the ground in Africa and are actively getting laws changed to hopefully eradicate poaching. In 1980, there were 1.2 million African Elephants, and now there are less than a half of a million. Heminway, who is also the chairman of the board for, along with Carpenter and Li will be in attendance for the viewing and the Question and Answer portion of the evening after the film.

Tickets are $25 for non zoo members and $20 for members. Go to and link to Calendar of Events to purchase tickets under Battle for the Elephants. The event will be held at the Houston Zoo at 6200 Hermann Park Drive at 7 p.m. Contact email is


Peter Riger, vice president of conservancy at the Houston Zoo, said, “The onslaught against elephants, primarily killed for their ivory, is reaching unprecedented numbers since the 1989 international ivory trade ban. Holding the Battle for the Elephants documentary event is an additional way to help make a difference.” Riger stressed.

In 2013, the Houston Zoo’s Wildlife Conservation Program raised over $250,000 which is in turn helping support their partners at Save the Elephants in Kenya , the Niassa Elephant-Beehive Project in Mozambique and the Asian Elephant in Malaysia .

“We cannot be the generation that allows elephant populations to disappear across the grasslands and forests of Africa,” said Riger. “The sale and demand of ivory for consumer products such as carvings are causing the African elephant population to drop at an alarming rate every single day. Here at the Houston Zoo, we are committed to protecting animals outside of our zoo gates.”

At the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival 2013, Battle for the Elephants, National Geographic Television won Best Conservation Program (sponsored by The Nature Conservancy).

Lori Freese of FreeseMediaGroup is putting on the event in an effort to raise awareness and funds for Her involvement supporting Save the Elephants began as a little girl watching her grandmother’s efforts to preserve the species.

“I don't think that folks know that there are only 400,000 African elephants left and over 35,000 were illegally poached in 2012,” said Freese. “We can stop this in our lifetime and this event is the first step toward making it stop. They are magnificent and majestic. They are gentle and loving. They have family members who they mourn when they walk past the place where they were slaughtered. We have to do something to help. Nothing is too small.”

When asked about the upcoming event here in Houston , film maker John Heminway said, “I am totally thrilled the film will be shown in Houston . Texas has enjoyed a long and wonderful love affair with Africa for the last century or so, and this film and the large story it taps into should be of interest to many people in Houston . With luck it will move them. There is so much happening in Africa that all of us Americans should know about. The story in this film is central to a big tale coursing through Africa today.”

To drive home the impact of this global effort two big things have happened in Elephant Conservancy lately including a new law being passed in Africa partially thanks to WildLifeDirect and China getting crushing 6 tons of it’s ivory stash.

Heminway explained:

“The new legislation that passed into law on January 10, 2014 in Kenya must now be given teeth. Magistrates throughout the land must be able to enact it. Even more, the spirit of this law must go viral through Africa . I, for one, am very hopeful all these changes will occur, provided pioneering organizations like WildlifeDirect have a lot of help.

In Guangzhou China only 6 + tons of ivory were crushed. This was a symbol that is hugely important. Still it is only a symbol (there are over 32 tons sitting in Hong Kong warehouses). I believe what the China ivory crush means is that there is now a dialogue within the highest reaches of the Chinese government about the ivory trade. Many leaders still believe it must continue. Whether or not they are the majority I do not know. The important point is that there is a conversation in China — a much better situation than the one that we encountered about a year ago.

Think about what elephants mean to you. Just think of the word “Elephant” and what pops into your mind? Every child whether or not he or she has ever been to Africa grew up with Babar and Dumbo and lots of long-trunked stuffed toys. Elephants are hardwired into our consciousness. Come to this event if you believe the world would be a much sadder place if you woke up tomorrow to learn that elephants no longer existed in the wild. This film will start the conversation and we need you to be part of it."

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