Gateway Gazette

From My Bookshelf: Ralph Heffer

By Lynn Willoughby

Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived ~ Ralph Heffer
This is one amazing true animal story. It begins in a small German circus town where a boy and an elephant are born the same day. The boy’s father is in charge of the elephants for a circus and from birth the father tells his son that he and the elephant, Modoc, have a special bond.
It is written very simply and I was close to abandoning this book, but emotionally it is a roller coaster and I am glad I persevered.
When Bram is a young man, his father dies and so Bram completely and lovingly oversees Modoc – her diet, her training, her exercise, her socialization. Then, the worst thing happens – the circus is sold. Included in the sale are some of the “freaks”, and all of the animals. But Bram himself is not part of the deal. However, he stows away on the ship travelling to North America. When a typhoon strikes, the ship is sunk and Modoc and Bram are able to save many lives.
Coming ashore in India, Bram knows the circus owners will be looking for survivors, so he and Modoc travel to the teak forests hoping to find work.
The bond of love and caring between Modoc and Bram is astonishing. What I learned to appreciate most of all is the incredible intelligence, memory, sense of humour and emotions that elephants possess.
If you are an animal lover, read this book. The writing is not good, but the story is wonderful. The way Bram and Modoc are able to communicate is really inspiring.

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