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Dragana Pilipovic
Professor Fox
English 111-170
September 8, 2015
One Lucky Elephant
The video One Lucky Elephant, is a documentary by Lisa Leeman and Cristina
Colissimo and it explores love and bond between animal and man. David Balding who adopts a
baby elephant for his circus becomes so close to her, and will find out the mistakes he made, and
how hard it will be to part from the elephant.
Flora was captured as a baby elephant. In the process her mother was killed in front of her.
In some cases mothers and calfs are forcefully separated. Sam Haddock is former elephant
handler, his statement discuses the separation of mother and calf, when pulling 18-24 month old
babies the mother is chained against the wall by all four legs. Usually there is six or seven that go
in to pull baby rodeo style Some mothers scream more than others while watching their babies
being ropedThe relationship with their mothers end(qtd. In Captive Animals Protection
Society). Flora was lucky to get adopted by David Balding. He raised her as part of his family;
she was loved, spoiled and she becomes the star of circus, called Circus Flora. It was stationed in
St. Louis, MO for so many years. David and Flora spent so much time together. She loved to
have fun, and she would sneak into the party and dance. Before David got married, Flora was his
date. She can be annoying, and she is happiest when performing, David says, but as she gets
older, she would lose interest and start slacking.

As Flora approaches adulthood, David realizes it is time to retire Flora, as she is not happy
performing. She was getting too big and dangerous. On the last day, Flora performed in a circus,
Raul Gomez, Floras caregiver stated that I am concerned about Davids state of mind because
he never had children, and that Flora is like his child. The road to retirement is emotionally hard
on both David and Flora. Davids dream is to send her back to Africa; he planned to send her to
Safari camp in Botswana where she would be giving rides and still interact with people. That
plan fell through due to political reasons.
As a temporary solution, David sent Flora to the Miami Metro Zoo, where she would be
with other elephants. Flora had to adapt to new environment, male and dominant female Peggy,
to Davids surprise, she adapted quickly. Soon after he left, she attacked new care giver and sent
him to the hospital with bad injuries. David was in denial, but admits that there was another
incident. Flora attacked Tony Schamadan in 1999 while she was riding her, and sent her to the
hospital with few broken ribs and badly bruised. Miami Metro Zoo wanted Flora out of there as
soon as possible. David had to find permanent home for Flora. David says the perfect place for
her is at Carol Buckleys Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN.
At the beginning Carol was only taking Asian elephants. David had hard job to do and
convince Carol to take Flora, but after all she takes one other African elephant, and emails David
to bring Flora. On his sixty-fifth birthday after emotional separation David said goodbye to
Flora. David didnt think that was final goodbye, because Scot co-founder of Elephant Sanctuary
promised David he could come and visit. Soon after David left, Flora had an outburst of
aggression, striking metal pipes and laying fences down. Therefore Carol sends him a letter
explaining that its in the best interest of Flora, if he didnt come to visit. From here on
emotional rollercoaster begins for David, he really misses Flora, but tries to forget her. Few times

he calls Carol hoping she would allow him to come and see her before he dies due to health
issues, but he gets turned down. At one point David said If I had known I wasnt going to be
able to see her, I would have never given her to Carol and Scot.
After Carol had Flora examined by a doctor they came to a conclusion that she was
suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). G. A. Bradshaw Ph.D. and Lorin Lindner
Ph.D., M.P.H. both state that like people; elephants can also become victims of past traumas and
exhibit symptoms of PTSD years after the experience, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a
condition that describes anxiety-based responses to life threatening events. Due to PTSD Flora
was separated from other Elephants and spends time alone. With Zola passing, everything
changed for Flora and David. Davids biggest concern was Flora being all alone. Flora and Tangy
have each other now and are spending time together. Carol Buckley Founder of Elephant
Sanctuary said that foot prints were found at Zolas resting place, which confirms that she was
visited by her sisters Tangy and Flora. After nine years David decides to resign himself and to
let go. Life goes on David said.
The general point of the documentary is that love and bond between man and animal is
real, and that animals are capable of love and emotional pain. The purpose of it is to bring
awareness to people of how exotic animals are being captured and treated, for business and
pleasure of the public, by having exotic animals perform in Circuses. Flora is one of the six
hundred elephants, who live in captivity in North America. Training and breaking of the
elephants is a process of straining ropes and chains around their bodies and necks, to manipulate
their body parts. I am against animal cruelty and holding animals in captivity for any purpose.
They are wild animals and need to be free. Many countries around the world: Austria, Bolivia,

Costa Rica, Israel and Singapore have banned the use of all wild animals in circuses.
However, when I look at the love and bond between David and Flora, I cant help but wonder
what kind of life Flora would actually have if she stayed in Africa.

Watching the video One Lucky Elephant brought back the memories from my
childhood. I remember it like it was yesterday; when I would go to the city with my mother,
gypsies use to bring a bears, they would have chains around their necks and they had the other
end of it (chain). And then they would force a bears to dance and drink a beer. I use to think to
myself, how they would feel if someone did that same thing to them. Watching a video I learned
how animals are treated while being trained for the act, and how emotionally it affects them. As I
am writing this Essay I am doing some research, and I came across one website in which they
support The Law of banning all circuses from using animals for their act. I wish that every exotic
animal is released and put in to Animal Sanctuaries around the world.
One fact remains, Flora indeed is One Lucky Elephant!


Works Cited
"Animal Circuses, Animal Suffering." Captive Animals Protection Society. Captive Animals
Society captiveanimals.org/news/2010/06/animal-circuses-animal-suffering>.
Bradshaw, G.A., and Lo Lindner. "Post-traumatic Stress and Elephants in Captivity." (n.d.): n.
pag. Web. <http://www.elephants.com/joanna/Bradshaw&Lindner_PTSD-rev.pdf>.
One Lucky Elephant. Dir. Lisa Leeman and Christina Colissimo. Perf. David Balding, Flora.
Protection, 03 June 2010. Web. 21 Sept. 2015. <http://www.
2011. Film.