This doc was born in idle curiosity and grew out of an article (page 13
http://www.rhodeislandhld.com/magazine/oct08.pdf) I wrote for Rhode Island Home, Living and Design Magazine which, though a real estate promotion magazine, covers a fascinating range of topics.
I had heard about the murder of Bette, the Learned Elephant in Chepachet, which is in northern RI, in 1826, some time ago. Though she was just the third elephant ever imported to the nation, she, tragically, was the second one murdered. I filed away the fascinating fact in the back of my head until November, 2007, when I learned about the unveiling of a statue of Fanny, a zoo elephant from Pawtucket just north of Providence. Being of the Nancy Drew persuasion, I began hunting to find out if there were more pachydermal stories in the state. I found two more big ones and a host of little references to elephants here.
When you begin a doc, you need to spend a lot of time staring into space, organizing, brainstorming, trying to make sense of what you're doing and why. My hunch is (after a lot of cogitation) that though this story is about the interaction fo Rhode Islanders and elepahnts through time, its theme is "the evolution of consciousness" in man's relationship to animals. We see and treat animals, especially exotic animals, a lot differently now than our forebears did. And in this piece, that really shows.
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