Hansa: The True Story of an Asian Elephant Baby
Sasquatch Books, May, 2002.
Hardcover, 47 pages.
Ages 6 to 10
In the 100 year history of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, no elephant baby had ever been born. Until little Hansa, a rare and endangered Asian elephant, was born -- much to the joy and delight of the zoo personnel and the zoo visitors. Clare Hodgson Meeker details the events leading up to and after the birth of the charming baby elephant whose name means "supreme happiness" in Thailand. The herd at the Woodland zoo is all female, so the mother to be, Chai, had to make a road trip to Missouri to meet an acceptable male. Because elephants learn much of their behavior, it was a real challenge for the keepers to teach Chai how to be a mother (all but one of the elephants had never seen a baby before and didn't know how to handle it.) But with some creative thinking, the zookeepers got the new mother to bond with little Hansa (they had to build a platform for her to nurse from because she couldn't quite reach yet.).
The powerful African elephant matriarch, Watoto, welcomed little Hansa, and eventually all the other aunties figured out how to deal with the newest member of the herd. Clare Hodgson Meeker does an outstanding job of telling the story of Hansa and the other elephants. Her prose is lively and very entertaining. Accompanying the text are absolutely marvelous photographs from the Woodland Zoo, as well as informative illustrations by Linda Feltner.
According to Ms. Meeker, elephants are in danger of total extinction from our planet in 20-30 years, which is not common knowledge. Only with support of natural habitat zoos such as the Woodland Park Zoo will we be able to stop the extinction of this intelligent, noble animal. Sharing this entertaining little book with children is one way to ensure that the next generation understands and values the animal life on Earth. Highly recommended.
Hansa: The True Story of an Asian Elephant Baby is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the September, 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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