Elephants have been in the news lately, and it hasn't been good news. They are in serious decline thanks to insane notions about the powers of their tusks. I hate to even think about what's going on in the semi-wilds of the worlds. Even a headline like "Bone Wine" in China made from the few tigers left in that country, can send me into a spiraling downward sadness. When will it end? Never, I guess. But the headlines reminded my mother of a story from her childhood, and that's the story I want to tell.
years ago (I am not allowed to tell you how many!), my mother's father
took her and her sister Ellen to the Bronx Zoo. My mother was four years
old, her sister was six. They walked around and saw all the animals,
but when they got to the part of the zoo where the elephants were, the
area had been cordoned off. My mother started to cry because she really
wanted to see the elephants. They were her favorite animal. A zookeeper
came by and asked my grandfather why my mother was crying. He told the
man that she really wanted to see the elephants. So the zookeeper told
my mother to stop crying. He promised that he would send her her an
elephant in the mail. She was elated. She was going to get an elephant.
days after she would stand by the apartment window waiting for the
mailman to arrive. Her mother asked her, "Beatty, why are you standing
there be the window everyday?" She replied, "The man told me he would
send me an elephant. I am waiting for it."
course the elephant never arrived. But the latest headlines stirred
that memory and that passion for elephants. This year for the holidays
my wonderful, thoughtful sister bought my mom a little present.
Her elephant finally arrived.
Of course we wonder if this will someday be all that is left of our wild beautiful animals.