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Elephants Among Us

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Elephants Among Us

By Mike Jaynes
July 2013

Examining the stories of two performing elephants. Both underwent disaster, and both can tell us something about ourselves.

elephants captivity circusBorn in the 1970s, Stoney the elephant spent his life traveling and performing with his family. In 1994, he was injured while working in Las Vegas. He died after a nearly year-long medical confinement in a storage barn behind a hotel. The pages within chronicle his short life and tell the complex story of the people who knew him and those who tried to save him. Stoney is the most important elephant you’ve never heard of.

Also within is the story of the elephant Big Mary, who in 1916 was hanged from a railroad derrick after killing a man in Tennessee. Here an effort is made to combine previous scholarship into a new considered retelling, with the elephant as the core of its focus.

Big Mary died at the beginning of the twentieth century, Stoney at the end of it. Both performing elephants underwent disaster, and both can tell us something about ourselves.

Elephants Among Us can be purchased from Earth-Books.net.  


Mike Jaynes teaches English and Women's Studies at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is an animal ethics and animal advocacy writer and speaker focusing most closely on the topics of elephants in captivity and ocean life. Elephants Among Us examines the stories of performing elephants who have died in American captive environments and who have largely been forgotten.