Thursday, 24 January 2019

Elephant Secret, by Eric Walters.                     Junior Fiction

           Samantha Gray and her Dad have an elephant sanctuary in the U.S.A.  They care for a herd of eleven elephants;  money is scarce on their 200-acre property and they have to spend it wisely, especially on secure fencing and good feed for their large charges.  There’s not much left over for themselves, but they wouldn’t have it any other way:  they are loved and respected members of the herd, and the herd is Sam’s family – her mother died giving birth to her and she has known no other life.  And that’s the way she wants it, for in her experience, elephants can be a lot nicer than people.
            Sam and her Dad are particularly excited as the story begins because one of their elephants is pregnant and after nearly two years (!) is about to give birth:  she has been artificially inseminated at the request of a mysterious investor in their sanctuary who has provided them with a lot more cash for food and even two trained zoo veterinarians to assist at the birth – he must have very deep pockets!  They are all thrilled to be a part of this – until everything goes wrong;  despite the vets’ best efforts to help, the mother dies and they fight to save the baby, who requires 24/7 care and feeding – and for the progeny of an Asian elephant, looks very shaggy indeed, so much so that Sam names her Woolly.
            What’s going on?
            The mysterious investor is so excited by the birth that he eventually reveals himself so that he can pay Woolly a visit, and Sam and her Dad are dumbfounded to find that he is a very famous billionaire computer genius and  conservationist who has invented a program to extract the DNA of woolly mammoths, enormous ancestors of elephants who roamed the icy planes of the earth thousands of years ago:  Woolly is a clone, an exact copy of a female mammoth who died and was frozen in the arctic ice three thousand years before.  Her life is precious beyond imagining.
            Mr Walters has given children of all ages a touching and marvellous story of conservation under stress, elephant behaviour, and the great love and loyalty they can feel for each other and their human friends.  We need more books like this to urgently promote the message that elephants are an endangered species: If we don’t stop despoiling our beautiful world they will soon be extinct, like the mammoths that used to roam the Tundra.  FIVE STARS.

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