Ela and Noor lived in Thailand with their Mama elephant, Zin. Days were lazy as they followed their Mama threw the back lands and sometimes through small villages. Their Mama told them of dangers to watch out for, sometimes elephants disappeared and were never seen again.
Noor was older then Ela so she followed him, sometimes even when she knew her Mama would not approve. They were never suppose to leave the herd, but being adventurous, Noor often slipped away with Ela following close behind.
On this day Noor heard unfamiliar noises coming from the river. It was just too much for him to ignore. Off he went towards the noise and Ela followed him. As he neared the river's edge he smelled Humans. He had often been offered food from humans in the villages, so he had no fear. Noor and Ela went to the river's edge to get a drink and that is where their journey started.
Noor filled his trunk with water and sprayed his sister with it. They were having so much fun. Just then several humans came out from behind bushes. They offered the elephants a treat from buckets. Ela took some in her mouth. It was yummy! Peanuts, something she had never tasted before. The human took the bucket and sat it down a distance away from her. Noor and Ela were happy to follow him right into a cage. They were enjoying the treat so much they didn't even notice the door being closed and locked.
It seemed like a very long day. The elephants cried out often, wanting someone to come and open the door. They got excited when they heard the sound of a motor getting close to where they were. They had heard this sound in the village and were sure someone was coming to let them out. A very large truck backed up to the cage. Big monstrous teeth grabbed onto the cage and lifted it into the truck. Noor was frightened and called out for his Mama. The elephant herd had left the area hours before leaving Zin to hunt for her children alone. When she heard the cries of Noor she rushed to the river. Seeing her children caged in the truck she rushed the truck, trying to free them. The humans took out guns and shot them into the air. Zin retreated to the bushes, knowing what this sound was and remembering what happened to elephants when humans shot off guns.
Zin followed the truck along the length of the river until it turned into an ocean. There she saw the cage loaded onto a huge boat. The humans were busy all night loading one cage after another with many baby animals crying out for their Mama's. Soon after the sun came up, Zin saw the boat pull away into the huge ocean. She cried and wailed but there was nothing she could do. Her children were gone.
Zin would never join the herd again. Instead she lived on the shore of the ocean, waiting for the boat to return with her babies.
Weeks passed. The humans would bring food and water to Noor and Ela. Many times Ela became sick from the rocking of the ship. The belly of the ship was filled with cages, some of the animals became friends, looking for the love they all were missing from the separation of their mother's.
One day the rocking stopped. How excited Noor was, thinking they must be home and would soon find the herd and their mama feasting on fruits. Soon the huge iron teeth grabbed onto their cage, but instead of setting them down and opening the door they were loaded onto a train. Ela was just glad the swaying was done and she settled down to throwing some water over herself from the buckets. Noor was now worried. He didn't hear anything that sounded familiar. Again he cried out for Zin, hoping she would hear him and this would be all over. He knew once he was returned to her, he would never again leave her side.
It wasn't long before the train stopped and the doors opened, letting in some much enjoyed sunshine. The cage was lifted out of the box car and into a truck. Hearing the motor Noor got excited. Finally he thought he was being taken home. It wasn't long before his excitement ended. When the cage door finally opened, Ela and Noor found them self being lead by humans into a large indoor area. Soon it filled up with humans all touching and patting the elephants. The area was filled with dirt and mud, much like it was at home and in the center there was a watering hole. It wasn't as big as the river at home but it looked so inviting after not having been wet for so long.
"Come Ela", said Noor, "as he headed towards the water." Soon they were immersed and emptying their trunks of water onto each other. Ela heard the humans laughing and talking. Soon one of them came to the water with a bucket. "No", said Noor, "That's what got us into this mess in the first place, don't take food from them." Ela got out of the water, but found herself backing away from the bucket.
Each day the humans came, washed them, looked into their eyes and ears, cleaned their feet and offered them food. They would be led to the water by a stick the humans tapped on their side. "I don't think we are going home", said Ela, "I'm hungry and I don't think not eating will bring Mama." Noor and Ela began eating. Soon they had settled into their new home and even enjoyed the humans visiting them. Still, sometimes they would cry out hoping their Mama would hear them.
One day the elephants were led through a gate into an area where they saw large adult elephants on the other side of a fence. Noor and Ela cried out for their Mama. She must be among the adult elephants. As they stood at the fence looking for her, some of the elephants poked there trunks through the fence and seemed to be checking them out. Soon they were no longer a new site and they found themselves standing and looking at nothing as the large elephants left one by one. Each morning they would be brought into this area where they played in the dirt and mud and enjoyed the larger water area.
One day when the humans came with buckets of food, they were not led back to the small area. Ela was happy with this. She enjoyed the trees that hung over this area. It reminded her of home and Mama. This day was different. Soon they saw humans standing along the one fence on the other side of the water. This became their new life. Mornings were spent playing and then the humans would come and look at them on the other side of the fence. In the evening the humans that fed them kept up the routine of looking into their eyes and ears and washing them. But at night you could always hear Ela and Noor calling out for their Mama.
Zin never gave up her watch. She stayed by the ocean watching each ship that came. They always left with a full ship of cages filled with animals, but never did she see them take any cages off. At night she cried for her babies. Her cries echoed against the trees and skipped across the water. She decided if she was going to find her children, she needed to get onto the boat.
The very next ship that arrived Zin paced up and down in front of the dock. The humans shot off their guns but Zin did not run this time. Without her babies she might as well be shot. Finally the day came to load the ship. Zin rushed to the cages, standing their waiting to be lifted onto the ship. Again the men shot into the air and again Zin didn't leave. She was desperate to get into a cage, any cage. Then she saw a cage with a baby elephant all alone. She began ramming the sides of the cage with her trunk and body. The baby elephant cried out thinking this Mama elephant was going to kill her.
Zin heard the humans talking. They thought this was her baby elephant. They new she would not leave and because of her size they were not going to fight her. With a long hook the one human opened the door of the cage. To their surprise Zin did not talk the baby into leaving the cage, instead she got into the cage and just stood there. The humans sat food outside the cage but Zin refused to move. They finally gave up, closed the door and loaded the two onto the ship.
Soon the ship was on it's way, swaying with the ocean waves. This baby elephant was younger then Noor or Ela. She was happy to have a mother and nudged herself against Zin to steady her footing. It would be weeks before they landed and got to see sun light again.
One day the ship stopped rocking and the cage was taken from the ship and loaded onto a train. Zin thought about her babies and how scared they must have been to make this trip alone, most of the time in darkness. Soon the cage was loaded onto a truck. The elephants were taken to a strange place, nothing Zin had ever seen before. The cage was sat on the ground and for many days to come she was poked by a human who yelled at her and the baby in a loud voice. They were given straw to eat and a small supply of water each day.
One day humans came with a metal sheet that they slide into the cage, separating her from the baby. Zin cried out along with the baby. The humans opened the cage door and poked at the baby, trying to move her to the outside. She squeezed herself into the corner, whipping her trunk at the men and making screaming noises. This went on for days. Zin banged herself against the sides of the cage every time the men approached them. Soon the metal wall was removed and the baby squeezed herself almost under Zin for protection. Zin decided this baby was hers for now and needed a name. She called her Boo.
As the days pasted, Zin saw other elephants being led around and poked at with sticks. These elephants wore clothing like the humans and were often led into a huge tent. They didn't seem to notice Zin and Boo in the cage. She heard many human voices making loud sounds and music. Not the same music as she heard at home that was made with drums, but it was music. Zin kept watch for baby elephants, but she saw none.
Zin was worried. It had been days since they had been fed and only given a little water. She was getting thin and Boo had lost the spirit of a baby. One day the cage and all the animals and tents were loaded onto trucks and they were once again on the move.
Noor and Ela had grown some in the past year. They liked the humans who were taking care of them. They liked the humans who came and looked at them through the fence, but each night they cried, remembering the Mama they missed.
Something was happening. Noor heard the sounds of the gate being opened in the small area they first lived in. He heard a lot of talking from the humans. He wondered if they were going to be taken back inside. The thought made him sad. He liked the large water hole and the shade of the tree's that hung over the fence. Ela walked back to the gate but could see nothing inside.
Soon the trucks stopped. Something was wrong. Humans that Zin had never seen before were climbing all over the trucks. She pulled Boo close to her when one of these men put a stream of light into her eye. He was talking to her but she didn't understand. Soon a tub of water and buckets of fruits and food was placed into the cage. Someone was hosing them down with water, it felt so good.
The elephants arrived at a new place. The door of the cage was opened and they were led into an area with a small pool of water & plenty of food. They both were exhausted and soon fell asleep. Zin woke hearing the cries of her children. This happened often, but this time she really heard them. She rushed to the gate and let out a bellow that only a mother could make at hearing her babies cries. She banged her body against the gate over and over.
Ela rushed to the gate with Noor right behind her. Zin stretched her trunk through the gate and examined her children. Boo was right beside her, happy to see small elephants like herself. Seeing that she could not break the gate between them, they all pushed as close as possible with their trunks wrapped around each other, including Boo. This is how they spent the night.
The Zoo keepers were astonished when they saw the elephants all together. They always separated new elephants for a long time and slowly introduced them to each other. After rescuing these elephants from the traveling circus, they wanted to make sure it was safe to put them together. This mother elephant looked like she wanted to mother all 3 babies. This was very strange so they decided to watch them all day and see how things went.
It was pretty clear, none of the elephants would leave the gate, not even to eat or play. They decided to open the gate and try to get the baby to join the other two, but as soon as they released the gate, Zin pushed herself through. She seemed to be embracing the babies. Soon all four elephants were in the water, happily playing and washing each other.
Soon Zin began to trust her keepers. Maybe she was glad she no longer had to worry about her babies being captured or maybe she had forgotten the herd and replaced it with the love of her children. This was their new home. Zin was content to stay here and wait for Boos mother to find her.