The Cowboy and His Elephant: The Story Of a Remarkable Friendship was written bye Malcolm MacPherson, and was published in 2001. The story begins by describing what a cull is and that the lone survivor of the cull is called “The Storyteller”. The first chapter is not accurate as nothing is known of what happened to the elephant until the point of the cull. It simply describes basic behaviors of other elephants in the same region. Later in the first chapter the cull begins, which is the slaughter of an entire group of elephants, however, one man had made a promise to save one elephant from a cull.
Save he did, he saved the newborn elephant. Later that week that baby and five others were to be shipped to the United States, Buck Devries, the man who made the promise, decided the baby he saved needed a name so he went to visit her right before she left and wrote AMY really big on the side of her crate. Chapter two is teaching us of Robert “Bob” Norris and his life as a cowboy. One of his many ranch hands, rode up to Bob and told him that “Some guy came over earlier this morning. Said he wanted to rent a couple of stalls. I told him to get out of here. We don’t do that”(pg. 38).
Bob grinned and asked what he needed the stalls for but the man didn’t say what he needed them for. The next day the man returned and explained that he needed the stalls for six baby elephants, Bob was amazed and slightly intrigued by this so he accepted. Later that week he was asked to become the Marlboro man, which he accepted. Weeks later all the elephants had been sold, except for Amy, Bob was told that someone was finally coming to see about buying Amy but, Bob had grown to like Amy thinking she was different than all the other elephants. He then bought her right there on the spot.
Amy was very sick and depressed from seeing her family being slaughtered, she was nearly dead. Bob began buying her toys and then she met the family dog and she began playing with the dog. Except the dog would run away for several days and Amy wouldn’t have anyone to play with. Bob bought a goat for Amy to have a more permanent friend. Years went bye and Amy became accustomed to Bob and the ranch, she even thrived. Years later she was too big for Bob to handle so he contacted a friend, whose name was Buckles, and asked him if he would be interested in Amy being in his circus act.
Buckles accepted and raised Amy for many more years. Buckles then retired and asked Bob what he should do with Amy, and Bob had heard of this man who was taking orphaned African elephants back home. Bob and Buckles both agreed that that would be the best option. So, on Amy’s last performance Bob attended several years after he had last seen her and had no idea if she would remember him, he brought her a carrot and her favorite sweet buns from Colorado. When Amy walked out from behind the curtain she instantly smelled Bob and interrupted the show to step over the gate and lay her head on Bob’s lap, she did remember.
What did I dislike about this book? I disliked that the introduction of the book was dragged on and on. The first two chapters were seventy-five of the 240 pages of the book. I understand they have to introduce a story but, I believe that guessing what happened to the baby elephant weeks before the story began is a little too much detail, that is unnecessary. I also dislike how they guess emotions of Amy during the entire story, even though the emotions are just to add humor or sadness to the story. However I like that the book describes Bob’s past before he meets Amy(pgs. 7-74).
This is important because we learn that Bob likes to do the unexpected, and that he really loves animals. I also like that Bob was able to return to his cowboy ways after his days as the famous Marlboro man. I like that this book isn’t just facts about elephants, or facts about Bob, they mixed facts in to a storyline. I also like how the storyline isn’t straightforward but that it is mysterious at times. I did enjoy that Malcolm MacPherson, the author, didn’t stop when Bob visited Amy in the circus.
When it stated that Amy did remember Bob(pg. 210). I like that the book also introduces more elephants other than those in the circus and Amy’s family. The book also introduces Randall Moore, a self trained and observed African elephant trainer, and then was challenged to train three wild African elephants(pgs. 216-217). Randall Moore successfully trained these wild elephants, and then started transporting the African elephants back home to Africa(pg. 221). Moore was rejected when he first made it to Africa, and he couldn’t figure out why.
Later on an African elephant lover, told Moore that he wasn’t able to bring them in because they were South African elephants. Would I recommend reading this book? I would recommend reading this book, if you can make it through the first two chapters, it is very thought provoking. It changed my view of elephants completely. I thought they were creatures that would kill to kill and would recklessly attack anything nearby. It turns out that they are very peaceful creatures that are super protective of their own kind. This is a very good book with many unexpected events.