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Author Topic: A Whalephant of a Story
snopes
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Many years ago in England, a circus elephant named Bozo was very popular
with the public. Children especially loved to crowd around his cage and
throw him peanuts. Then one day, there was a sudden change in the
elephant's personality. Several times he tried to kill his keeper. When
children came near his cage, he would charge toward them as if wanting
to trample them to death. It was obvious he would have to be destroyed.
The circus owner, a greedy and crude man, decided to stage a public
execution of the animal. In this way, he could sell tickets and try to
recoup some of the cost of losing such a valuable property.

The day came and the huge circus tent was packed. Bozo, in his cage,
was in the center ring. Nearby stood a firing squad with high-powered
rifles. The manager, standing near the cage, was ready to give the
signal to fire, when out of the crowd came a short, inconspicuous man
in a brown derby hat.

"There is no need for this," he told the manager quietly.

The manager brushed him aside. "He is a bad elephant. He must die
before he kills someone."

"You are wrong," insisted the man with the hat. "Give me two minutes in
the cage alone with him and I will prove you are wrong."

The manager turned and stared in amazement. "You will be killed," he
said.

"I don't think so," said the man. "Do I have your permission?"

The manager, being the kind of man he was, was not one to pass up such
a dramatic spectacle. Even if the man were killed, the publicity alone
would be worth millions. "All right," he said, "but first you will have
to sign a release absolving the circus of all responsibility."

The small man signed the paper. He removed his coat and hat preparing
to enter the cage. The manager told the people what was about to
happen. A hush fell over the crowd. The door to the cage was unlocked.
The man stepped inside. The door was locked behind him.

At the sight of this stranger in his cage, the elephant threw back his
trunk, let out a might roar, then bent his head preparing to charge.
The man stood quite still. A faint smile crossed his face as he began
to talk to the animal. The audience was so quiet, that those nearest
the cage could hear the man talking, but couldn't make out the words.
He seemed to be speaking some foreign language. Slowly, as the man
continued to talk, the elephant raised his head. Then the crowd heard
an almost piteous cry from the elephant, as his enormous head began to
sway gently from side to side. Smiling, the man walked confidently to
the animal and began to stroke the long trunk. All aggression seemed
suddenly to have been drained from the elephant. Docile as a pup, he
wound his trunk around the man's waist and the two walked slowly around
the ring.

The astounded audience could bear the silence no longer and broke out
in cheers and clapping. After awhile, the man said farewell to the
elephant and left the cage. "He'll be all right now," he told the
manager. "You see, he's an Indian elephant, and none of you spoke his
language, Hindustani. I would advise you to get someone around here who
speaks Hindustani. He was just homesick."

And with that, the little man put on his coat and hat and left. The
astounded manager looked down at the slip of paper in his hand. The
name the man had signed was Rudyard Kipling.

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Flaming June
Deck the Malls


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Rudyard Kipling????

What does this have to do with Rudyard Kipling?

All along, I thought he was an author, not an elephant whisperer.... [Roll Eyes]

*sigh*

Truthful Ocean

--------------------
Metaphors be with you!

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Kathy B
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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One citation:
Bits and Pieces, Dec. 1991, pp. 19-23

Kipling was fluent in Hindustani

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The plural of "anecdote" is not "data."

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waterlily
Jingle Bell Hock


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I kind of like the idea of a man calming down the elephant by speaking Hindu but the Rudyard Ripling part has no point. And wasn't he the guy who wrote the infamous "White Man's Burden"? I never knew the guy personally but he seems the type that would reject any Indian way of doing things.
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Brad from Georgia
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by waterlily:
I kind of like the idea of a man calming down the elephant by speaking Hindu but the Rudyard Ripling part has no point. And wasn't he the guy who wrote the infamous "White Man's Burden"? I never knew the guy personally but he seems the type that would reject any Indian way of doing things.

Rudyard Kipling's poem "Recessional" does have the line "take up the white man's burden" in it, yes.

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Mama Duck
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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So is there a point to this at all? Ya know, if I were having lunch with Kipling's granddaughter, this would be an entertaining little tale. But a piece of glurge? I don't get it. [Confused]

--------------------
There is no interpersonal problem so big that it can't be solved with a suitably large amount of high explosives. ~ Bufungla

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Molesworth
The Red and the Green Stamps


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The elephant later pulled a young Winston Churchill out of a swamp, before going on to discover penecillin.
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DrFraud
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by Molesworth:
The elephant later pulled a young Winston Churchill out of a swamp, before going on to discover penecillin.

When the spores got up its trunk, presumably?

--------------------
"Danger is a good teacher, and makes apt scholars. So are disgrace, defeat, exposure to immediate scorn and laughter."
- William Hazlitt; _Table-Talk: Essays On Men And Manners_

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Richard W
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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"You see," said Kipling, "when you told the elephant about Jesus, he couldn't understand you. But now, he's found peace and salvation in the arms of the Lord. Have a cake."

And with that, he floated off into the sunset on a helium-filled bouncy castle.

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Gold-Bay Toes
The Red and the Green Stamps


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I don't know about this version but I'm reasonably sure a circus in the US staged a public execution of an unruly elephant. They shot it over twenty times in the head, and the head is now on display in some museum somewhere. I'll see if I can find a cite....

Edited to add the following:

Mary the Killer Elephant
Black Diamond

Topsy of Coney Island

There are more... anyway I was surprised to find public execution of elephants so common... And it just makes me hate animal circuses even more *sigh*

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arnie
Jingle Bell Hock


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I suppose this is theoretically possible. Kipling was born in India and spoke Hindustani as his first language (Rudyard Kipling). The description ("a short, inconspicuous man in a brown derby hat") certainly fits him, although the word "derby" is an Americanism; Kipling would have worn a bowler hat.

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De gustibus non est disputandum.

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snopes
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A woman was explaining her theory of putting her children to bed: "I never tell bedtime stories that begin with 'Once upon a time,'" she said. "If I really want to put them to sleep, I start off with, 'Now, when I was your age...'" It's nice to understand people so well that we know just what to say! Here is a mother who could speak her children's language.

The story is told of the most famous elephant in the world -- a huge, beautiful and gentle beast named Bozo. Children extended open palms filled with peanuts for the Indian elephant, who gently plucked them from little hands and seemed to smile as he ate his treats.

But one day, for some inexplicable reason, Bozo changed. He almost stampeded the man who cleaned his cage. He charged children at the circus and became incorrigible. His owner knew he would have to destroy the once-gentle giant.

In order to raise money for a new elephant, the circus owner held a cruel exhibition. He sold tickets to witness Bozo's execution and, on the appointed day, his arena was packed. Three men with high-powered rifles rose to take aim at the great beast's head.

Just before the signal was given to shoot, a little, stubby man in a brown hat stepped out of the crowd and said to the elephant's owner, "Sir, this is not necessary. Bozo is not a bad elephant."

"But he is," the man argued. "We must kill him before he kills someone."

"Sir, give me two minutes alone in his cage," the visitor pleaded, "and I'll prove to you that you are wrong. He is not a bad elephant."

After a few more moments of discussion (and a written statement absolving the circus of liability if the man should be injured), the keeper finally agreed to allow the man inside Bozo's cage. The man removed his brown derby and entered the cage of the bellowing and trumpeting beast.

Before the elephant could charge, the man began to speak to him. Bozo seemed to immediately quiet down upon hearing the man's words. Nearby spectators could also hear the man, but they could not understand him, for he spoke a foreign language. Soon the great animal began to tremble, whine and throw his head about. Then the stranger walked up to Bozo and stroked his trunk. The great elephant tenderly wrapped his trunk around the man, lifted him up and carried him around his cage before carefully depositing him back at the door. Everyone applauded.

As the cage door closed behind him, the man said to Bozo's keeper, "You see, he is a good elephant. His problem is that he is an Indian elephant and understands one language." He explained that Bozo was frustrated and confused. He needed someone who could speak his language. "I suggest, sir, that you find someone in London to come in occasionally and talk to the elephant. If you do, you'll have no problems."

The man picked up his brown derby and walked away. It was at that time that the circus owner looked carefully at the signature on the paper he held in his hand -- the note absolving the circus of responsibility in the case he was injured inside the elephant's cage. The statement was signed by Rudyard Kipling.

People also become frustrated and angry when they are not understood. But great relationships are formed by parents who learn to speak their children's language; lovers who speak each other's language; professionals who speak the language of their staff and clients. When people understand that YOU understand, that you empathize with their heartaches and understand their problems, then you are speaking their language! It is the beginning of true communication.

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Chava
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
I never knew the guy personally but he seems the type that would reject any Indian way of doing things.
Kipling's writings indeed reflect the attitudes of his time, with ideas like "the white man's burden." But they also reflect an enormous admiration for Indian people and culture, as well as for other indigenous peoples. (You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.) While he is apparently no longer Politically Correct, he was a darn sight closer to PC than others of his era.

Chava

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Nofret
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Gold-Bay Toes:
I don't know about this version but I'm reasonably sure a circus in the US staged a public execution of an unruly elephant. They shot it over twenty times in the head, and the head is now on display in some museum somewhere. I'll see if I can find a cite....

Edited to add the following:

Mary the Killer Elephant
Black Diamond

Topsy of Coney Island

There are more... anyway I was surprised to find public execution of elephants so common... And it just makes me hate animal circuses even more *sigh*

Sharyn McCrumb tells the story of the hanging of Mary the killer elephant in Chapter 11 of her Agatha Award-winning mystery "She Walks These Hills." In the acknowledgements section after the conclusion of the novel, she credits a number of works, including "The Day They Hung The Elephant," by Charles Edwin Price, Overmountain Press, Johnson City, Tennessee, 1992.

Nofret

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