Sunday, September 22, 2013

Elephants Are Not Just Republicans

Today is Elephant Appreciation Day!  Now this may be a strange post to some, but I absolutely love elephants.  They are said to embody many of our human traits.  They are pranksters with a sense of humor and when happy and having fun they actually appear to be smiling.  Elephants are known to indulge in planned mischief and tricks in order to get attention.  They are the largest of land mammals on earth and said to be the most emotionally kindred to humans than any other animal.

My love for elephants was born during a visit to the Dallas Zoo in the early ‘80s.  I went with some friends that were in from out of town.  Their two boys were around 2 and 3 years old.  The weather was not cooperating that day for the planned picnic and zoo trip, but in spite of the weather, we decided to go anyway.  There were very few visitors at the Zoo that day and we spent our time during the heavy showers in the large animal building until the rain would slow.

It was a day that I will never forget.  Before our elephant adventure, we were told that the mama giraffe was in labor that day and we might or might not be able to see her.  Before too long the mama giraffe and her new baby made their entrance into the inside holding stall.  As I recall the umbilical cord was actually still attached and the baby was wobbly as could be barely standing on spindly little legs.  Mama was grooming her little baby and it was such a joy and blessing to witness the sweetness of nature’s glory.

Down from the giraffes, were 2 or 3 elephant stalls.  The elephants were outside and out of our view during part of the time that we were in the building.  When they finally came inside the covered area, they went into different holding stalls to eat.  Between the viewing glass and the railed elephant stalls was a walkway for the staff.  A zookeeper came walking down the walkway carrying cleaning supplies.  The elephant in the closest stall to the approaching zookeeper ran to the rail and stuck her trunk out for the keeper to pet and love on her.  The elephant in the other stall went running outside from her stall and into the next one where the first elephant was receiving love and petting.  She ran to the rail wanting her share of the attention.  The zookeeper was lavish in sharing her affection with them both and then gathered her supplies and proceeded down the walkway around to the outside and then came into the first stall to begin cleaning. 

Both elephants proceeded to get as close to the keeper as possible wanting more love.  Every time she would resume sweeping, they would get into the swept pile and scatter it around.  You could tell she started fussing at them and they just kept playing, soon taking the broom away from her and passing it back and forth high over her head.  All the while she was really scolding them.  They repeatedly would play their game until they knew she was really, really serious.  She started to reach to pick up something that may have been a small whip.  Just as small children, they quickly scampered out and into the adjoining stall awaiting the zookeeper to come and clean so they could once again resume their game of Keep Away.

It was such a fun and memorable day that we probably would have missed had it not been for the rain.  I have often reflected on that awesome day and still marvel at the wonders of this world, thankful for all the Lord gives us—great and small.                

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