An old circus trainer reunites with his elephant after 15 years (video)

From the video’s YouTube page:

In 1988, Huell attended a touching reunion between Charlie Franks, an 80-year-old elephant trainer, and Nita, the elephant he had raised from a baby of five years. When Charlie retired in the early 1970s after traveling the world with his beloved performing elephant, he donated her to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, and hadn’t seen her for 15 years.

Charlie passed away shortly after the segment. Nita died in 2009 at the age of 60. The video remains as a tribute.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • http://www.facebook.com/cyberkarensmith Karen Smith

    Dear John, I fear you have missed the most critical message this clip offers. To portray circus trainer relationships with their
    animals as loving, dedicated and doting is a falsehood. As for the trainer, his affliction is called “selective memory”. This apparently affable guy
    doesn’t seem to remember the terror he had to inflict in order to end up
    with an elephant who sits, waves and fetches. She was broken into
    submission and only through that submission was he able to force her to
    perform tricks. Further, if this exemplifies an elephant’s memory, it
    kills me to think of the terror every captive baby elephant must
    “remember” and live with. And when she “asked” for help with her foot,
    she was pooh-poohed. Extremely sad, really. NO MORE CAPTIVE
    ELEPHANTS!!!! Please consider a follow-up with some research on the training and innate gentleness of elephants. This story will take on a whole new meaning.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lisa.buggins1 Lisa Badonde

    I think its disgusting that he went back and made her start doing tricks just to prove she remembered him. Probably did it out of fear thinking his walking stick had a bull hook on the end. And anything you “fall in love with” – you do not abuse or torture into doing what you want it do.

    Typical yanks have a way of sounding so excited about everything but behind all her training from this vile man, lies alot of pain and hurt from routines used to train these gentle giants. Im glad that was the last time she seen that old man… cos all he thought about when he got her was lining is pockets, NOT her welfare

  • Lola

    How terribly sad,this elephant would have remembered the bullhooks,the beatings.How can this be a touching reunion,check out how they are trained.all this for our amusement.timevthey were all returned to large open spaces with no fear of beatings.

  • Sadie

    And the bull hook is part of the training here as well – a cruel piece of equipment!! And the elephant still responds and remembers the harsh voice, sees the walking stick as the bull hook – elephants are very intelligent and will always remember!!!

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