Elephants Among Us

Elephants Among Us

Two performing elephants in 20th-century America

Examining the stories of two performing elephants. Both underwent disaster, and both can tell us something about ourselves


    Born in the 1970s, Stoney the elephant spent his life traveling and performing with his family. In 1994, he was injured while working in Las Vegas. He died after a nearly year-long medical confinement in a storage barn behind a hotel. The pages within chronicle his short life and tell the complex story of the people who knew him and those who tried to save him. Stoney is the most important elephant you’ve never heard of. Also within is the story of the elephant Big Mary, who in 1916 was hanged from a railroad derrick after killing a man in Tennessee. Here an effort is made to combine previous scholarship into a new considered retelling, with the elephant as the core of its focus. Big Mary died at the beginning of the twentieth century, Stoney at the end of it. Both performing elephants underwent disaster, and both can tell us something about ourselves.


    This is an insightful and informative book that accurately reflects the tragic plight of captive elephants. ~ Bob Barker, Television Icon and Personality

    This is a deeply moving, true story of elephants who suffered at human hands: it is a book on a par with Black Beauty and Old Yeller. Highly recommended. ~ Ingrid Newkirk, President and Co-Founder of PETA

    This book looks deeply into the eye of Stoney, an Indian elephant, and what Jaynes sees is a reflection of ourselves clouded with a collective shame upon humanity for the misery we create in our merciless search for profit from the exploitation of creatures far nobler than we. ~ Captain Paul Watson, President, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

    Elephants Among Us: Two Performing Elephants in 20th Century America by M. Jaynes is a book everyone who cares about elephants should read. For someone like me who studies elephants living their marvelously complex lives in the wild, it is close to unbearable to know what the two captive elephants he writes about went through. But we have to know and this book raises our awareness and motivates us anew to prevent elephants from living miserable lives in captivity solely for our entertainment. ~ Cynthia Moss, Director, Amboseli Trust for Elephants.

    The story of Stoney the elephant’s long dark journey into night in the circus world is unforgettably told...If any story has the power to wake people up to the plight of elephants trapped in the entertainment industry, and to the wonder of these great beings humiliated by humanity, this one will…this book combines description, drama, analysis, history, and emotion very movingly and informatively ~ Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns

    Jaynes tells the story of a captive elephant, and a sad story it is. These animals, ntelligent, highly social, and used to large and complex ranges of habitats, simply do not belong in captivity. Like whales and dolphins, we can learn much from them, but we should only do so on their terms, not on ours. ~ Ric O'Barry, Director, Earth Island Institute Dolphin Project

    I grew up with elephants. They are among the gentlest, most loving, most intelligent of beings. Jaynes does us all a favour by waking us to the story of our relations. ~ Dr. Vandana Shiva, Director, Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology

    Elephants are amazing beings. They have legendary memories, are incredibly smart, and deeply emotional. They experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Sadly, these amazing giants have also suffered greatly at the hands of humans in a wide array of venues. If you ever doubted how amazing elephants are and wondered if they're as awesome as people claim, this book will change your mind, and especially your heart, Read it, allow the ups and downs to permeate your soul, and share widely. ~ Marc Bekoff, author of The emotional lives of animals, Animals matter, Wild justice: The moral lives of animals, and The animal manifesto: Six reasons for expanding our compassion footprint.

    Jaynes writes with great care. This is an important book—Stoney was an individual, and his story as told in this very special book makes the case for affording all animals kindness and equal consideration. Whether you're an animal rights activist or simply a person who wants a world with less cruelty, you'll find that this book is for you. ~ Lisa Lange, PETA, Senior VP of Communication

    To the fascinating yet troubling stories of language-using great apes, Lucy, Nim, Koko, Kanzi, and Chantek, we now can add the remarkable life of elephant Stoney with all its joy and tragedy. We haven’t figured out how to do right by the emotional and intelligent non-humans who encounter our culture and educate, entertain, and enlighten us. Stoney, in these pages, sets us straight. ~ H. Lyn Miles, Ph.D., Primatologist and Director of Project Chantek and Animal Nation.

    Heart wrenching case studies make a compelling case for abolishing the use of elephants in entertainment. Read the book for details or just as a metaphor for the business-as-usual human domination of the natural environment that has brought devastating consequence to countless numbers of wildlife species. ~ Mike Hudak, Mike Hudak, public lands advocate and author of Western Turf Wars

    To see ourselves reflected in all life is to finally and truly see. To cause harm and suffering to another being is ultimately to cause a tear in the fabric of ourselves. This book gives us a personal and powerful insight into the being and story of elephants and through that into the very depths of ourselves. ~ Julia Butterfly Hill, forest activist and author of The legacy of Luna: the story of a tree, a woman, and the struggle to save the redwoods

    Stoney’s story is the story of Calle and hundreds of other elephants who are still suffering and dying at the hands of those who care little for them, and more for the profits they can make by exploiting and harming them. Elephants are unique, powerful, and intelligent. It is for those very same reasons they are so very vulnerable to human exploitation and greed. I strongly recommend Elephants Among Us for many reasons. But above all, I recommend it for how it captures the hearts and souls as well as the dedication and determination of the brave and caring people who attempted to be Stoney’s saviors from those who would do him harm and threaten his life. I thank them, as I believe you will too. ~ Elliot M. Katz, DVM, Founder, Guardian, and President Emeritus In Defense of Animals

    M. Jaynes has rendered a moving narrative that restores at least some of what humanity has robbed from elephants around the world: dignity and voice. This book gives hope that we humans will soon re-discover the “elephant within us”, and reciprocate the kindness and tolerance to other animals that they patently bestow upon us. ~ G.A. Bradshaw, PhD, PhD, author, Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us about Humanity, and Executive Director, The Kerulos Center.

    M. Jaynes
    M. Jaynes M. Jaynes is an American writer living in the Southeast. He has published on various animal ethics issues. Elephants Among Us is his first b...
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