Water From Elephants

Jake Flanagin in The Morning News:

Elephant-sotryThere is an old Tamil proverb: “Even an elephant can slip.” It is not a challenging metaphor to parse out—even the greatest beasts may fall. And when they do, the impact is ground-shaking. After all, their physical magnitude is biblically ordained: “Behold now Behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox… His bones are as strong as pieces of brass; his limbs are like bars of iron” (Job 40:15-18). And yet, despite inch-thick skin and bones like brass, Behemoth feels pain—great pain. And has a corresponding capacity for great relief. His nerves function like those of any other warm-blooded creature; bundling and fraying, crackling with neuro-electric energy. And when that signal ascends the spinal column, arriving at the thalamus and dispersing to the various cortexes that register hurt and reprieve, Behemoth may even shed a tear or two. When Raju the Indian elephant was unshackled from the chains that bound his “bars of iron” for more than five decades, rescuers observed what they described as “gushes of liquid” pouring forth from the animal’s eyes, cascading down his cheeks. A video of his rescue by Indian animal-rights advocates, and the accompanying tears, rode through the public consciousness on a wave of internet virality: “50 Years a Slave,” “This Elephant Was Released After 50 Years in Chains… You Won’t Believe What Happened Next,” et cetera.

…In March of this year, a wild male elephant raged through a village in the state of West Bengal. Dipak Mahato awoke to violent crashing sounds as the bull besieged his home. He recalled hearing a loud “cracking sound” coming from the bedroom of his 10-month-old daughter: “We ran over and were shocked to see the wall in pieces and a tusker standing over our baby,” he said, according to the Times of India. “She was crying and there were huge chunks of the wall lying all around and on the cot. The tusker started moving away but when our child started crying again, it returned and used its trunk to remove the debris.” Mahato’s wife, Lalita, was shocked by the beast’s seemingly instantaneous shift from furor to almost parental tenderness. “We worship Lord Ganesh in our village. Still, I can’t believe that the tusker saved my daughter after breaking down the door and smashing a wall. We watched amazed as it gently removed the debris that had fallen on her. It’s a miracle.”

More here.