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Friendly Elephant - A Story

Told by Dr. Deborah McCauley

I was in the heart of a jungle in Nepal on tiger capture. There were 30 top Department of Forestry and Nepali government officials, 10 Asian elephants, and 1 American woman - me. It was nighttime, just after a campfire dinner, and we were prepared for the tiger capture the following day. I wandered over to a lone bonfire near the elephants who were waiting to carry us to our mission. Nepal has a thick jungle forest, and the best way to traverse through it is on elephant backs. As I stood there while the fire crackled, I looked in awe at this magnificent animal; a stick landed squarely at my feet. I looked up to see a juvenile elephant waving his head and trunk up and down— was he laughing? Was it him that threw the stick? Or... was he actually coaxing me to pick up the stick and throw it back to him? I looked around to ensure that no one else was watching since I wasn't sure that elephants could communicate in this way and didn't want to seem foolish. I threw the stick, and immediately, the stick landed squarely back at my feet. He wanted to play!

We played this game for the remainder of the night, he not getting tired and me, fascinated and grateful that I could be invited into this world. Today is a special day - World Animal Day - to celebrate the creatures that have no voice. But I know as you, friends of VIEW, also know that they communicate. As you, too, have your own stories to tell of how they have touched your hearts. Thank you for caring.

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