Spanning several decades and three continents, Modoc is one of the most amazing true animal stories ever told. Raised together in a small German circus town, a boy and an elephant formed a bond that would last their entire lives, and would be tested time and again; through a near-fatal shipwreck in the Indian Ocean, an apprenticeship with the legendary Mahout elephant trainers in the Indian teak forests, and their eventual rise to circus stardom in 1940s New York City.
Modoc is a captivating true story of loyalty, friendship, and high adventure, to be treasured by animal lovers everywhere.
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1 . Amazing love and loyalty! An elephant never forgets!
Posted March 15, 2009 by Debra , SacramentoThis TRUE account is so amazing, so touching! The lives of a man and an elephant truly bound together from the exact same hour of their births to their deaths!
I bought 5 copies and gave them as gifts. If you enjoyed Seabiscuit, you won't ever forget Modoc!
October 01, 1989
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Excerpt from Modoc by Ralph Helfer
ON A GRAY, FOGGY MORNING THEY CAME, rising on the cold north winds from the icy peaks, sweeping across the timberland into the gray, misty valleys of the Black Forest... baby sounds! Somewhere below the fog layer, the insistent wails of a baby could be heard, their temerity as if from Mother Earth herself.
And then another voice arose. Deeper, brassy, trumpety, but still a... baby sound. It, too, was whisked away through the thermals, swirling and dashing about until it met its kin. A quiet moment hung over all. Then, together, they joined--the wailing and trumpeting became one. They drifted over the countryside, beyond the river, across the corn rows and the desolate fields of last summer's picking.
The first sunlight of the morning bathed the chilly Hagendorf Valley with its burnt ochre sphere. It seemed to rest, but for a moment, at the foot of Olymstroem Mountain upon a rather small but quaint old German farm. It was from there both baby sounds emanated.
A rutted dirt road snaked up the center of the farm, separating the pale yellow German-Swiss style two-story house from the large, old, rock and timber barn. The barn's rock supports had tumbled down at every corner, resembling small volcanoes with boulders spewed in all directions. The rotting wood structure seemed to be part of the earth itself, and spoke bluntly of the many years of winter storms it had survived.
Circus paraphernalia lay everywhere. A huge old wooden circus wagon, its hitch buried deep, wheels dug into the mud from years before, showed chips of red and gold paint still visible on its frame. Pieces of candy-striped tent hung over the barn's windows. A broken ticket booth lay in shambles, its GENERAL ADMISSION sign still hanging from the roof. Chickens, geese, a few pigs ran free around the dwellings. This was the Gunterstein farm.
The baby sounds had separated. From the second-story window of the house only the soft crying of an infant could be heard. Hannah, the midwife, an exceedingly large and buxom woman, finished powdering the infant's behind. After bundling him in a soft, warm blue blanket, she handed the baby boy to his mother. Katrina Gunterstein gently took her firstborn. A pretty woman in her early forties, the daughter of a dirt farmer, Katrina had a wide strong jaw and a high forehead that spoke well of her inherited German peasant stock. Kissing his bright pink cheeks, she opened her nightgown and offered the baby her full breast. The touch of the infant's tiny mouth on her nipple sent a ripple of pure ecstasy through her body.
"Oh, Josef! This is a boy to be proud of. Is he not wonderful?" She looked through tears of joy at her husband, who stood at her bedside.
Josef was the epitome of a proud father gazing down at his infant son. His slender body and chiseled high cheekbones made him appear much taller than his six-foot frame. Katrina had found the man of her dreams in Josef, a quiet, gentle man of the Jewish faith. After many failed attempts during their ten years of marriage, they were now blessed with a marvelous boy child. Although his blond hair and features came from the strong Nordic side of Katrina's family, he had the sweet and gentle warmth that radiated so strongly from Josef's heritage. They named him Bram, after Josef's father
"The boy's going to make a fine elephant trainer," said Josef, his eyes full of anticipation.