Elephant Speak: A Devoted Keeper’s Life Among the Herd

Melissa Crandall. Ooligan, $17 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-1-947845-10-7
Novelist and short story writer Crandall (Darling Wendy and Other Stories) makes her nonfiction debut with an affectionate profile of Roger Henneous, the longtime senior elephant keeper at Portland’s Oregon Zoo. Drawing on interviews conducted over four years, Crandall describes how Henneous learned animal care skills during his childhood in rural Iowa, and how, in 1968, he landed his dream job as an animal keeper at the Oregon Zoo, where, after “less than an hour on duty... he already felt like he belonged.” His “unflinching work ethic” and compassionate approach led to his promotion to chief elephant keeper and widespread recognition among his professional peers. While readers meet a number of Henneous’s charges, it’s clear that he is especially fond of herd matriarch Belle, who at one point saves Crandall’s life when a younger female elephant attacks him, outraged at him removing her baby from the enclosure for medical care. In one of the book’s most tender scenes, he visits Belle in the zoo’s convalescent ward shortly before her death in 1997, and not long before his own retirement in 1998. This moving tribute to a devoted and compassionate man will elicit a few tears before its conclusion. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/13/2020
Release date: 03/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-1-947845-11-4
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