The residents of Rose Dhu (an outlying neighborhood of Savannah, Georgia) are mourning the passing of the last surviving member of a small family of elephants which had lived southeast of that area for over 80 years. Tiny, as the locals affectionately refer to the reclusive pachyderm, unexpectedly wandered into town on Wednesday and then expired. She trampled several gardens on her way.
Miss Etta Delegal reported that she returned from church services around 9:00 p.m. Wednesday evening when Tiny entered the backyard of her home on Tidewater Drive, collapsed next to a compost pile, and died. “I used to see her lots when I was a little girl,” stated Miss Delegal who declined to give her age for this article. “We lived further out of town then, but Tiny was always kind of stand-offish and the loner type. Once though, she came right up when we was pulling stumps and she yanked out three of ’em just as easy as you please. Saved us a whole day or more of work. Then she just turned around and wandered off on her own again. I took to leavin’ bundles of alfalfa down by the fence line for her after that, when I could afford it, and often as not she’d come up after dark and eat it. Sometimes she’d blow a little trumpet blast which I think was her way of sayin’, ‘Thanks.’ But as more roads and buildings went up she didn’t hardly ever come ’round no more.”
Tiny is thought to be the only calf born to elephants which had lived wild in southeast Georgia since their circus train derailed sometime in 1931 or 1932 on its way from Savannah to either Jacksonville or St. Augustine, Florida. (Records of the disaster disagree on several details.) Immediately following the derailment, local residents mounted several hunting parties and reportedly brought down a few Bengal tigers which had also been freed by the wreck. The town still hosts an annual Tiger Chili Cook-off, although there is no evidence that any recipes ever really contained tiger meat. A mountain gorilla eluded capture and wreaked havoc for three weeks in the small town by stealing clothing drying on clotheslines. It was shot while wearing a woman’s girdle on its head. No one ever claimed ownership of the undergarment. For reasons that remain unclear the elephants were excluded from the hunt and thrived in the savannas outside Savannah.
Veterinary doctors from the University of South Georgia have examined Tiny’s remains and determined that she died of natural causes due to old age and exposure. They speculate that she was motivated to seek shelter in town from the arctic air that blasted the area along with nearly all of the eastern United States. While Tiny’s exact age is not known, she was most certainly born several years after the accident that released her parents into the wilds of south Georgia. Tiny’s remains will be interred in six plots in the Rose Dhu Municipal Cemetery. Donations for a monument will be gratefully accepted. A memorial service is planned for Sunday afternoon at the Rose Dhu Community Bible Church.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I first posted this story (under a different title) in January 2014 after watching the movie based on the book Water for Elephants. I was reminded of this recently and finally got around to reading the book (which I liked, FWIW). While this story is completely made up, I was pleased that some of the commenters on that original post were like me in that wanted to believe that it could be true.