Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Eye for an Elephant

Howlett's Wild Animal Park. Bekesbourne, UK
September 20, 2006.
Dan and I watched a BBC documentary several weeks ago about an Elephant named Echo and her family on the Amboseli Reserve, Kenya called "Eye for an Elephant". If you happen to see it showing somewhere, watch it! It made an amazing impact on both of us. In particular, there was a section involving a newborn elephant who was born with misshapen legs. His front two legs wouldn't straighten, as if he was walking on his knees. Apparently elephants are naturally able to stand within a half hour of their birth, but this poor little elephant struggled to keep up with it's mother, shuffling along. It tried and tried, but all seemed hopeless. He wouldn't be able to survive if he couldn't walk with the family. The mother stayed with the baby, stopping often to let him catch up. Then, while the other elephants were resting, but with the camera still on the little one, he finally, painstakingly managed to straighten his front legs and stand up! It turned out that the elephant was so big in the womb that his front legs were unable to stretch and became cramped. It was really very touching, and has made a lasting impression. Martyn Colbeck was the film-maker and photographer, and some of his black and white photos of the elephants from the documentary can be found here. (You'll find him under 'photographers' -- for some reason I couldn't get a direct link).


  1. it makes me sad just reading about it, i'm not sure i could watch it

    i saw a really sad one about flamingos migrating through these salt flats and some of the babies get so encrustred with salt they can't move or continue on and they die there, i was sobbing

  2. It was really sad, we could hardly stand it, but it was so heartwarming and happy when we realized he wasn't doomed to die.

  3. ..unless this has happened again I believe that this was actually quite a while ago that this happened because I know I saw this too but it wasn't recently..

  4. I'm not sure. I think the documentary I saw was only recently shown, but I know it was compiled from 15 years of research and that he has done other films. So maybe you saw the same elephant on something else, or maybe this sort of thing isn't that uncommon? No idea really.