Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.

~ Bill Cosby ~

Hooray For Happy Elephant Appreciation Day!

September 22nd, 2011 ~ Est. reading time: 1 min, 37 secs

I'd be happy if you gave me some fruit!

Did you know there is a day specially set aside for thinking about elephants? Few people do. These wise creatures are a delight to meet. Which begs me to ask you, have you ever ridden an elephant? These days some people would be rather unhappy with me asking that. Because it’s not politically correct to perch yourself on a pachyderm of any kind. But the experience is one that lingers as a lifelong memory.

Having a very happy holiday in Malaysia some years ago we went to an elephant rehabilitation centre. Set amidst the tropical jungle of the Malaysian Peninsula this facility enables these incredible animals to live a half wild, half tame life during their transition back to the wild. Cared for by a team of devoted handlers, the elephants seemed happy to let humans be part of their life in something of a negotiated arrangement: if the happy little people provide fruits to eat, then we will be happy to have them enjoy the odd ride.

I know it sounds strange but that’s exactly how it felt. Without getting into the  ethics of elephant welfare, it looked like a liveable arrangement. Like dolphins engaging with humans, elephants have an incredible sense of presence. To look into their eyes and watch their ways is a humbling thing because they know what’s going on.

So what’s it like to ride on top, skin-on-skin, bareback? Well, surprisingly safe. You feel that the elephant is happy to let you ride. That means they want you to be safe. So even when Ruth and the boys rode one elephant into the local river, the elephant was happy to oblige; rolling over, as gently as an elephant can, to keep her cargo safe. Happy to recline, she enjoyed a scrub down with sand in the warm water as a reward.

Free as these elephants are to come and go from the facility, the lack of wild space for these magnificent creatures worldwide is dwindling. Especially as elephants need a lot of room! So why not spare a thought today for elephants, and the joy they bring and even make it your business to try to visit one some time soon? Bring along their favorite fruit, the stinking durian, and I imagine they will be happy to meet you.


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