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05 March 2010

Taj's 70th Birthday Watch her face when her birthday cake is wheeled out.
She doesn't look a day over 60!
posted by gomichild 05 March | 21:28
That made my day. Good Taj!

Elephants fascinate me. They're almost scarily intelligent. (Scary in that they are usually treated so badly, and they know it.)
posted by BoringPostcards 05 March | 21:56
That's so sweet.
posted by desjardins 05 March | 22:06
Oh, wow. Moving and impressive - as elephants always are.

I feel the same as BP. Elephants are so clearly knowledgeable, intelligent, aware, sensitive, dignified. They definitely get what's going on - it's not a blur to them, it's just a foreign cultural context in which they're very gracious. And so often, we see them in these situations where they're confined, put with people - safe and healthy, preserved from poaching and environmental destruction, but alone as creatures, kind of making the best of it, with human keepers and, I'm sure, a loneliness for their own kind. It's so amazing to see how with-it they are, and I'm happy they're OK, but it always tears my heart up a little to see them making do.

LT and I watched a PBS documentary on two elephants that had been kept together when young, then separated for like, 40 years, then reunited. It was incredible - they recognized one another, rushed toward one another, and caressed one another for hours. They really didn't forget. Also, a man who had been one their keepers for decades had had to say goodbye to the elephant he cared for when she went to this retirement preserve. They filmed him gently bathing her one last time, then visiting her long after her relocation. She remembered him too, and greeted him lovingly.

We humans. Man, we have really messed with the animals over the last few hundred thousand years. They are doing pretty well given us lunkheads in the mix, all things considered.
posted by Miko 05 March | 23:14
My last birthday was pretty much the same.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 05 March | 23:24
two elephants that had been kept together when young, then separated for like, 40 years, then reunited. It was incredible - they recognized one another, rushed toward one another, and caressed one another for hours.

Exactly. I've seen so many cases like this. (I used to edit video for an "environmental science" group at CNN and therefore I have animal stories out the wazoo.) Elephants are one of those animals like dolphins and certain primates, where their intelligence and awareness of their own situation makes you realize how fucking horrible most of their species' interactions with humans have been.
posted by BoringPostcards 05 March | 23:24
This is good.
posted by arse_hat 05 March | 23:50
I wish I knew more about elephant body language. Is the thing with the curled up trunk and open mouth a spontaneous thing they do or is that something that they trained her to do to endear visitors?
And why do the handlers look into her mouth repeatedly? And that stick that this one handler keeps hidden behind his leg; is that electrified? How often does he use that?

I still maintain that we should resurrect the woolly mammoth from dna found in the permafrost in Russia. Just imagine; mega elephants with cuddly wuddly fur coats! Basically a collision between elephantness and catness; a supernova of cute.
We'll breed mammoths like we did dogs. Ones with straight hair and ones with curly hair. With long hair and short hair. Even bigger ones and tiny ones you can keep in your home. If you reinforce the floor with concrete.
I'll ride to school on a mammoth; hidden in its warm fur coat.
Ok, so much for my childhood fantasy.
posted by jouke 06 March | 01:24
I posted this on MeFi a while back about the elephant at the Mirage in Vegas, Gildah.

Years ago I saw a wildlife documentary filmed in Africa where the TV crew were following a herd of elephants. At one point they came across a baby elephant that had fallen into a deep ditch - a chasm, almost - and couldn't get out. Its mother and a couple of other females were standing nearby, helplessly.

The film crew took the decision not to record the baby dying over the next few days, but to intervene. (Apparently it's a sort of unwritten law of nature documentary makers that, no matter how easily they can save an animal's life, they generally don't interfere with nature.)

They had several large jeeps, and so they rigged up ropes and made a harness and managed to pull the baby out. The females seemed to sense the film crew were helping, not harming, the baby and so didn't attack them.

They got the baby out safely and the elephants moved away to rejoin their herd.

A few weeks later, still filming, a bull elephant took exception to the crew and began to charge at them. The female elephants, recognising the crew as the people who'd saved the baby, intervened and stopped the bull. It was one of the most incredible things I've ever seen, the female elephants trumpeting "NO!" at the bull and almost galloping over to stop him.
posted by essexjan 06 March | 04:23
Miko, I've seen that documentary. Just remembering it makes my throat a little tight. Beautiful.
posted by Specklet 06 March | 04:35
Wow, ej. That sounds interesting.

They're amazing creatures.
posted by Miko 06 March | 09:17
It looked to me like Taj was saying, "Is that for me?!"

And I agree with above, elephants are wonderful beings.
posted by deborah 06 March | 16:35
Heart. Melted.
posted by Atom Eyes 07 March | 00:24
Female Illustrators of the Mid-20th Century || BP Radio!