By Amy Kathleen Miller
I just love elephants, both the African and Asian elephants. I’ve read a lot about them, and I am especially excited about the love of an elephant for her herd. Pachyderms are very beautiful and magnificent animals.
“The Cowboy and His Elephant,” written by Malcolm MacPherson (published by Thomas Dunne Books), is a true story about a young African elephant that ended up in America after going through a tragic beginning. Her family was killed through a cull in Africa and she was spared and sent to America, with other baby elephants, to be sold to either circuses or zoos.
Bob Norris is a cowboy and he has enormous empathy for animals. This book tells you a wonderful story of a man who fell in love with a hurt and vulnerable baby elephant, whose name happens to be Amy. Great name, wouldn’t you think? From this genuine friendship came a deep bond between a man and beast, which is just incredible to read about. Bob Norris adopted Amy, and through his genuine love for animals and his perseverance, this cowboy – an accomplished horseman – was able to help Amy build confidence, trust for humans, and feel like she is part of his family. His hired help loved her and enjoyed her company as well. This story will make you laugh, cry, and come away amazed by this true story.
Here are some examples from the story. For a cowboy, fence riding is relaxing and could even be fun in good weather. The chore calls for long, solitary sojourns under a big sky. For Bob, it was a time for reflection, singing songs, and talking to his horse and himself. Usually, when he was setting out, Amy walked behind him and Big Bob, his horse, as far as her wallow before turning back. Bob no longer looked around to see if she was following him. But one fine day, for a reason known only to Amy, before she seemed to notice how far she had gone past the wallow, she was out of sight of the barns and ranch buildings. She looked back and then with a snort of determination, she followed Bob, who slowed up to her pace. He lowered his hat and watched her out of the corner of his eye. She explored around rocks and under bushes. Lizards and strange ground-nesting birds and rabbits burst from under the sage. She would chase after them and Bob was astounded by her curiosity. Then he would realize that she had not lived wild like this since Africa. Amy was apparently having fun.
Another time, Bob had a picnic with Amy and her other animal friends, a dog and a goat. Bob had a radio with country music on and had the volume down low. He took their lunches from a paper bag and spread the food out on the table, and they ate together. Amy would cause vibrations and Bob thought that she was trying to tell him something and he would feel sad that he couldn’t understand what she was telling him. Often Amy felt the moods of Bob even before he did. When he was sad, angry, down, or happy, she adjusted to his mood. She would trumpet a greeting if Bob was happy, be quiet and watchful if he was down, and pout with him.
Another thing I just have to mention is a time when Bob and his wife, Jane, traveled from Colorado to the warmer climate of Arizona for the winter months. They hauled Amy around in a horse trailer, and this excerpt of the story was hilarious. They entered Arizona and had to pass through the port of entry.
“The inspector looked out the window at Amy’s trunk waving in the air — outside her trailer. Her head bumped up against the ceiling. Even a numbskull could have seen that she was an elephant. He looked startled. ‘What the hell’s that?’
“What?” asked Bob with feigned surprise.
“The inspector looked and pointed out the window. ‘That!’
“Bob said, ‘A cow.’ The inspector looked at him real hard. ‘A horse,’ Bob said, changing his mind.
“‘A horse with a damned trunk?’
“Bob grinned slyly. ‘It takes all kinds.’
“‘Well, cowboy, whatever it is you got in there, get it out of here before I impound it.'” — Malcolm MacPherson, The Cowboy and His Elephant, Thomas Dunne Books, New York, 2002, page 150.
There came a point in time where Amy had to leave Bob because she was getting too large for a ranch hand to handle and move around. This is a very heart-wrenching part of the whole story but that is not all. This part of the story was not only hard on Amy, it was hard on Bob as well.
This is a book worth reading. I found it at my local library.
Today, Amy is in an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee. She is in her 20s and she has had her first calf. She is a classic example of a story that has had a happy ending.
Editor’s Note: “Amy’s Angle” is a weekly Wednesday feature in this blog.
Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media
- AMY’S ANGLE – The emotions of elephants (viewfrommiddleclass.wordpress.com)
- Baby Elephants Christened en Masse in Sri Lanka (news.discovery.com)
- 9 young elephants find new home in Mexican zoo (amarillo.com)