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Elephants Never Forget

In 1972, Joe Miller was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Tulsa Junior College. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Joe approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee, inspected the elephant’s foot, and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Joe worked the wood out with his knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.

The elephant turned to Joe, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Joe stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled.

Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Joe never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Thirty years later, Joe was walking through the Tulsa Zoo with his family. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Joe and his family were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Joe, lifted its front foot off the ground, and then put it down. The elephant did that several times, and then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1972, Joe could not help wondering if this was the same elephant... Joe summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing, and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Joe's legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

It probably wasn't the same elephant.


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