by Ali Berman
Categories: Animals
Tags: .
Photo: Christian Haugen

Emmy award winning documentarian Allison Argo has hit her goal of raising $20,000 on the crowdfunding website kickstarter. Her project? A film to tell the story of Dao, an elephant stolen from her family in the wild and forced to work.

The story goes as follows: “Captured from the wild as an infant, Dao is taken from her family. She is broken and pressed into human service, forced to leave behind all that she loves. The film spans Dao’s lifetime – over fifty years – from pristine jungle, through ancient temples, logging camps and a black market underworld. As her journey unfolds, the world around her shifts: the forests shrink, illegal logging and drug trafficking flourish, elephants beg on city streets and tradition erodes…until at last, a kinder attitude towards elephants begins to emerge. In the final chapter of her life, Dao finds safety in a forest sanctuary.”

The film is inspired by a real life elephant named Pang Dao who Argo met in Bangkok while filming a National Geographic/PBS documentary on elephants twelve years ago. Pang Dao, a fifty year old elephant, would sleep with her mahouts under an abandoned highway and then would go to work begging for food on the streets of the city. She still had open wounds on her body from when she worked for decades in the logging industry.

In Argo’s plea for cash, she says about her goals when creating a documentary, “I’m really concerned about other species not only in the wild but also the way we treat them in captivity. I try to raise awareness and hopefully improve their lives.”

That’s the goal of this film. To improve the lives of elephants. The $20,000 Argo has raised will go towards travel and research for the film. She has already reached that goal. Anything additional will go to fund pre-production.

If you’re unfamiliar with kickstarter, it’s a website that allows people to raise money through crowdfunding to fund a project they might not be able to do otherwise. Plus, people who give get incentives for doing so. Check out Argo’s kickstarter campaign to see if you want to be a part of it.

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is the author of Choosing a Good Life: Lessons from People Who Have Found Their Place in the World (Hazelden) and Misdirected (Seven Stories Press). She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Her published work can be found on her website at In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

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