Synopses & Reviews
When Roger Henneous first dons his keeper uniform and sets foot in the Oregon Zoo, he doesn't know what to expect. But over his thirty-year career, Roger discovers the joys, difficulties, and dangers of life in a zoo, all the while maintaining an unwavering devotion to Belle, Packy, and the rest of the Asian elephants in his care. As their friend, Roger faces many risks — but his willingness to learn their language and speak for the herd makes him unique among his contemporaries. In return, the elephants give Roger a rare level of trust and respect, reminding us how much we can learn when we choose to listen.
Elephant Speak: A Devoted Keeper's Life Among the Herd takes place in a time when ethical conversations about animal comfort, safety, and enrichment in zoos were just beginning. More than an evolutionary history of zookeeping, this unique biography celebrates the extraordinary bonds between humans and elephants and asks what we owe elephants, where we have fallen short, and how we can move forward together.
"Elephant Speak is an inspired, and inspiring, tale of shared devotion between a man and an elephant herd, fostered through a language that transcends barriers: love. Both timely and timeless, this is a story that needed to be told.” John B. Valeri, book reviewer and writer for National Book Review, The News and Times, and The Strand
"This moving tribute to a devoted and compassionate man will elicit a few tears before its conclusion." Publishers Weekly
“Told with compassion and intimacy, Elephant Speak is the story of one man, but it’s also the story of so much more...At times upsetting, always moving, Crandall’s writing never shies away from the truth.” Janie Chodosh, author of Wild Lives: Leading Conservationists on the Animals and the Planet They Love
About the Author
Melissa Crandall is a writer and essayist whose work has appeared in dozens of publications including Allegory Magazine, Wild Musette, ASPCA's Animal Watch Magazine, and the Journal of the Elephant Managers Association, and is the author of Darling Wendy and Other Stories and Weathercock. Her short fiction has been featured in numerous collections, with her stories "The Cellar" and "Thicker Than Water" both nominated for Pushcart Prizes. Melissa is a member of the Authors Guild and the Elephant Managers Association and currently resides in Connecticut with her husband.