Cinema to screen National Geographic elephant documentary, CWC to host meet-and-greet for producer Katie Carpenter



According to Les Standiford, whose book Battle for the Big Top was published in June, after Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus retired elephants from their shows in May 2016, attendance dropped so precipitously that the Circus folded.

Americans are enamored with live elephants. So much so that the public interest and fundraising commercials that World Wildlife Fund is currently airing on television focus almost exclusively on them. Its website echoes these ads, urging viewers to “make a symbolic adoption (of an African or Asian elephant) in support of WWF’s global efforts” to “help protect the future of nature.”

Keeping these magnificent megafauna alive in their natural habitats is a monumental challenge, as environmental filmmaker Katie Carpenter can attest. She has co-written and produced two PBS films about elephants for National Geographic TV.

“Battle for the Elephants” is an hour-long documentary that spotlights the poaching of elephants in East Africa for their tusks, the market forces behind the illegal ivory trade, and the efforts being made to save them from extinction. 

Winner of the 2013 Jackson Wild festival prize for Best Conservation Program, this film merited a sequel, “Warlords of Ivory.”

At 3 p.m. Wednesday, July 28 at the Chautauqua Cinema, “Battle for the Elephants” will be screened — free of charge — as a Films for Change Benefit Special.

All proceeds will support Big Life Foundation, which maintains several wildlife-related programs, including those for human-elephant conflict mitigation, anti-poaching, wildlife crime/anti-trafficking and community education.

For admission, tickets are to be reserved in advance online at

Following the screening today, there will be a wine and cheese reception for Carpenter at 4:30 p.m. under the tent on the front lawn of the Chautauqua Women’s Club.

During this gathering, Carpenter will speak briefly about her involvement in the writing and production of “Battle for the Elephants.”

“We’re going to make the reception into a roundtable charrette,” Carpenter said. “We’ll be talking about the issues that have come up. It will be nonpolitical and free-sciency.”

Among those issues: what concerned Chautauquans can do to assist in keeping increasing numbers of African and Asian elephants alive and well.

To attend this ticketed event, sign up online at

Tags : battle for elephantsChautauqua CinemaKatie Carpenternational geographicWeek Fivewomen's club

The author Deborah Trefts

Deborah Trefts is a policy scientist with extensive United States, Canadian and additional international experience in conservation. She focuses on the resolution of ocean and freshwater-related challenges and the art and science of deciphering and developing public policy at all levels from global to local.