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- Publisher: HarperCollins
- Format: Paperback | 352 pages
- Dimensions: 135mm x 201mm x 25mm | 227g
- Publication date: 1 October 1998
- Publication City/Country: New York
- ISBN 10: 0060929510
- ISBN 13: 9780060929510
- Illustrations note: b&w photographs
- Sales rank: 13,714
Spanning seven decades and three continents, Modoc is one of the most amazing true animal stories ever told. Raised together in a small German circus town, a boy and an elephant formed a bond that would last their entire lives, and would be tested time and again; through a near-fatal shipwreck in the Indian Ocean, an apprenticeship with the legendary Mahout elephant trainers in the Indian teak forests, and their eventual rise to circus stardom in 1940s New York City. Modoc is a captivating true story of loyalty, friendship, and high adventure, to be treasured by animal lovers everywhere.
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Ralph Helfer is a well-known Hollywood animal trainer who was one of the first to use affection and kindness to train wild animals. He is the author of The Beauty of the Beasts, and he lives in Los Angeles and Kenya, where he leads safari tours.
"Once I started this incomparable story, I couldn't put it down, and I cannot get it out of my mind--nor will I ever. The message of what can be accomplished by training through affection and joy will thrill all animal lovers."-- Betty White"Once in a while, a book comes along to prove that wonderful friendships can occur between the animal kingdom and mankind. Ralph Helfer has done it with Modoc."-- "San Antonio Express-News""Heartwarming, captivating...a beautifully true story that will make you think twice about the incredible and very real feelings of elephants, and probably the greatest love story ever told."-- "African Sun-Times""A captivating tale."-- "Publishers Weekly"
The simply astonishing, exhilarating story - complete with high adventure, betrayal, and resurrection - of Modoc, elephant extraordinaire, told by Heifer (The Beauty of the Beasts, 1990). They were born on the same day, a hundred years back, in a Black Forest village: Bram Gunterstein, son of a circus animal trainer, and Modoc, an Indian elephant headed for big-top life with the Wunderzircus, a provincial troupe. Their love for each other develops early, when Bram is just a toddler and Modoc a youthful one-ton package, and Bram's father on his deathbed councils Brain to watch after Modoc. That he does, and the tribulations and pleasures they share defy the imagination: The circus is sold out from under Bram to the sinister Mr. North; Bram stows away on the vessel transporting Modoc, leaving behind the girl of his dreams; discovered, Bram wins over the captain, but the ship sinks during a hurricane; Modoc and Bram float to the shores of India, where Bram learns further tools of the trade at the maharaja's elephantarium; there he lives in a teak-built compound, tends to Modoc, and is honored to have an audience with the sacred white elephant; he woos and wins a woman from the village but is warned that North is on his trail. He strikes out with Modoc to the teak plantations of Burma, is captured by rebels, loses his wife, confronts North, journeys to the US and fashions a spectacular show for Modoc, wins back his earlier love, only to have the elephant sold out from under him again. Heifer (an animal trainer by trade) happens across Modoc and buys him in the 1970s, then Bram appears yet again. The story is told with a heart-tugging warmth that, granted, at times slips into Disney mode, but that feels credible: There is, amazingly enough, a truthful tang to the picaresque proceedings. One glorious pachyderm and one cracking story. (Kirkus Reviews)