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About the Author

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.


A unique relationship between an elephant and man is related in this captivating tale from Hollywood animal trainer Helfer (The Beauty of the Beasts). Born on the same day in 1896, Modoc the elephant and Bram Gunterstein became inseparable companions. Bram's father was an animal trainer for a small German circus. When the circus was sold, the boy stowed away on its ship, which sank during a storm in the Bay of Bengal. Modoc and Bram were among the few survivors. The pair made their way through rural India, working in the teak forests. Then the circus owner reappeared to claim Modoc and to take Bram on as the animal's trainer. In America, Modoc enjoyed huge success. Eventually she was sold behind Bram's back, however, and vanished. Nearly 20 years later, partners in a company that supplied trained animals for TV needed an elephant on the cheap. They found one on a farm in the Ozarks, a filthy, emaciated animal covered with cuts and bruises. Her name was Modoc. The elephant responded to treatment and surprised her new owners by performing circus tricks. In time, Bram found his way to Modoc for a joyful reunion. Helfer's telling, packed with reconstructed dialogue, seems fanciful at times, and he is vague about dates. Still, sentimentalists and animal lovers should flock to this story. Photos not seen by PW. Foreign rights sold in the U.K., Germany, France, Holland, Finland, Japan and Italy; dramatic rights: Richard Curtis. (Oct.)

"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"

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