OCTOBER 2005 National Geographic Magazine
Victim: Laysan albatross chick. Age: six months. Cause of death: starvation due to a full stomach. Contents of stomach (right): cigarette lighters, pump-top sprayer, nut shells, shotgun shell, broken clothespins, hundreds of plastic bits)
   The food an albatross parent regurgitates into a chick's mouth should be squid, fish, and fish eggs. Adults fly thousands of miles to gather this food where it concentrates in mid-ocean gyres created by currents. But trash trapped in gyres gets gulped down too, then fed to chicks. Before fledging, chicks naturally vomit the squid beaks and other organic undigestibles they've stored. It's rare now to see one of these masses that doesn't contain marine debris. Starvation associated with marine debris is a significant cause of death in chicks that don't fledge. Hile in her award-winning film, Vanishing.



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Giants. The video depicts villagers dragging a four-year-old elephant from her mother into a tiny cage (above) where she is beaten and deprived of food, water, and sleep for days. As the teaching progresses, the men yell at her to raise her feet. When she missteps, they stab her feet with bamboo spears tipped with nails. The prodding continues (top) as she learns to behave and accept people on her back. "Tourists from around the world pay top dollar to take elephant rides in the forest or watch them perform in shows," says Hile. "But the process of domesticating these animals is something few outsiders see." Thailand is not the only country using this method. Says Carol Buckley, founder of the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee. "In virtually every place that has captive elephants, people are doing this, though styles and degrees of cruelty vary."


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