There is no shortage of cute elephant videos on YouTube, and the millions of views they’ve recorded demonstrate why. Elephants are exceptionally smart. They can use tools. They respond to the human voice, and they demonstrate empathy toward other creatures.

That’s why at some level President Trump’s unexpected defense of elephants in Zimbabwe — putting the brakes on a recent government ruling to permit U.S. hunters to bring home “trophy” elephants killed in that country — shouldn’t be all that surprising, particularly from such an id-driven executive. He tellingly went straight to his emotions, calling big-game hunting a “horror show,” which was amazing considering that his sons are avid hunters.

Trump made the right choice. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the wrong one. The notion that big game hunting of elephants in Zimbabwe might have actually been in their best interest might have made some sense in a better functioning country. But the practice begun under President Obama to ban the trade of African elephant ivory is the better approach, and all parts of the elephant ought to be treated the same.

But he question is this: Assuming that Trump’s decision holds up as he does his research on the subject, might Trump demonstrate such kindness to other species?

That’s not exactly a hypothetical question. Trump’s support for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could be disastrous for millions of acres of pristine wilderness and the animals from caribou to wolverines that live in northeastern Alaska. Why doesn’t the destruction of an ecosystem count as a “horror show” as well?

So while we are grateful that Trump is not so hard-hearted as to ignore the suffering of African elephants, it would be nice to discover he might be educated on the host of other species that aren’t getting much love from his agencies.

This editorial first apperared in the Baltimore Sun. This commentary should be considered another point of view and not necessarily the opinion or editorial policy of The Dominion Post.