National Geographic: Coming of Age with Elephants


I learned to look at the world through

the eyes and ears of elephants.

Some people, other elephant people,

have told me

that I think I am an elephant.

In some ways, perhaps they are right.

Like Africa, the elephants

take hold of your spirits.

They can possess you and persuades you

to look at the world

in a different light.

There is something so grand about

the life of an elephant,

its great size, strength, and age.

Elephants have so many of the

qualities we like best about ourselves,

dignity, loyalty

to families and friends,

compassion, and a sense of humor.

Biologist Joyce Poole has taken

a journey,

without maps, into the heart of

the African elephant.

She came to know elephant like family.

She discovered biological forces

no one had ever suspected,

and elephant voices

no human had ever heard.

For years, Joyce fought for

their survival,

never imagining that one day

she would face a terrible choice.

Joyce Poole would have to give

the order to kill elephants.

This is the story of a woman

who loved elephants in a world

that had no room for them.

Looking back at how it all began,

it seems as if Africa has always been

my home.

Joyce Poole's family came to Kenya

in the 1960s

when her father worked for

the Peace Corps.

She grew up in Africa.

The family loved wild places

and often camped in

Kenya's Amboseli National Park.

I saw my first elephant as a child

of seven,

a huge bull in Amboseli.

And I remember asking my father

what would happen

if he charged the car.

And as my father said,

"He'll squash the car down to

the size of a pea pod," he came.

I remember a lot from Amboseli.

It was one of our favorite places,

but I remember most the elephants.

The swamps were home

to a huge number of animals.

But it was always the elephants

that captured my imagination.

At the age of 11,

Joyce knew what she was going to be

when she grew up,

a wildlife biologist.

When the time came to leave home, she

went out to live among the elephants.

Her journey would soon

change the way

the rest of the world thought about


But in time,

it would change Joyce, too,

and turn all her dreams

for the elephants into dust.

It began in the shadow of Kilimanjaro

on the Kenya border.

Her new home was

Amboseli National Park,

where she had first encountered


Her mentor was Cynthia Moss,

who had already embarked on the most

comprehensive study

of elephant society ever attempted.

Using a photo book with pictures of

the elephants in Amboseli,

Cynthia taught Joyce

how to identify individuals.

Just keep your eye on Tuskless.

Now look, here in this picture,

you would say M-57 was older than M-22

because of the angle of his head.

Yes, Yes.

He's much younger.

The elephants also got to know

the researchers.

Babies played on camp as if under the

watchful eye of their own aunts.

At first, all the elephants looked alike

to me,

large and gray with big ears.

But Cynthia taught me how different

each elephant really was.


Esmeraldo was born in 1948.

Joyce gradually learned to recognize

individuals by their familiar features.

Vee was named

for the V-notches in her ears.

Tuskless had no ivory.

Joyce was particularly fond of

jezebel, a noble old matriarch

with one tusk pointing skyward

and the other straight ahead.

Each new arrival was given a name

that identified it as part of

a specific family group.

Cynthia Moss's work was

already revealing

that elephant families formed

an unusually complex society

dominated by females.

But the lives of the males were

still uncharted territory.

Males leave their families

as teenagers

and never again live in stable groups.

Alone in her car,

Joyce followed them.

She was 19 years old and had no idea

what she was getting into.

To study the males Joyce needed

to get as close as possible.

But the shadow of a bull elephant

was perilous place to be.

A male that seemed placid

could easily turn around

and impale her car on his tusks.

When I first started studying

the males,

there were many times when I had

elephants corner me,

tower over the car,

and I thought it was all over.

Showing who's boss is something

male elephants do

from the time they're youngsters.

Most fights aren't dangerous.

Size normally dictates rank

and every male already knows

where he fits in the social hierarchy.

But every once in a while,

fights turn deadly serious.

What was it that changed

all the rules?

Joyce noticed several older males

dribbling gallons of urine.

Glandular secretions darkened the skin

behind their eyes as if with tears.

She saw one elephant

who also seemed to be suffering

from a fungal infection

she'd never seen it before,

so she named him Green Penis.

But then other makes turned up

in the same curious condition.

Joyce soon realized there was

a pattern.

Each male had his own time of year

when the symptoms appeared.

And it appeared at the same time

every year.

In Asian elephants,

these symptoms were already recognized

as part of a male sexual cycle.

African elephants are

a different species,

and the experts all said they did not

have such a cycle.

It took long months of tracking

and recording the behavior

of individual males,

but Joyce proved the experts wrong.

At the age of 23, she had discovered

a driving biological force

that every other researcher

had overlooked:
it's called musth.

Musth is a heightened sexual

and aggressive period or rut.

And the word musth actually comes

from the Urdu meaning intoxicated.

Males start coming into musth on

average around 28, 29 years old

and their first musth periods

only last a day or two.

With time,

they last longer and longer,

and by the time they're in their mid

to late forties,

they stay in musth

for three or four months at a time.

How do you study six tons of

intoxicated male?

It takes art as well as science.

They're predictably aggressive

when they're in musth,

and even though you feel you know

an animal a 100 percent,

when they're towering over the car

and starting to put their tusk

on the bonnet,

you don't feel quite so sure

of yourself.

But over time,

the musth males accepted her,

and Joyce came to feel

at ease with them.

His name is Beach Ball

because everything about him is round,

his ears are round, his head is round,

his tusks are round,

his body is round

and his penis is round.

Beach ball, you be nice, you be nice.

I hear you've been misbehaving out

at headquarters,

knocking down fences and gates.

You be careful with my car.

I've just fixed it.

Each of the males used to have a sort

of a ritualized way of greeting me.

Um, Agamemnon used to come and put

his tusks up against the windshield,

and then throw his head back and forth

over the top of the car

with his front legs up

against the bumper.

And Alfred always, you know,

put his trunk on the bonnet.

And this one, I mean, he just,

you know,

he likes to sort of press up against

Rate this script:0.0 / 0 votes


The writer of this script is unknown. more…

All Unknown scripts | Unknown Scripts

4 fans

Submitted on August 05, 2018

Discuss this script with the community:



    Translate and read this script in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)


    Use the citation below to add this screenplay to your bibliography:


    "National Geographic: Coming of Age with Elephants" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 13 Jul 2024. <>.

    We need you!

    Help us build the largest writers community and scripts collection on the web!


    The Studio:

    ScreenWriting Tool

    Write your screenplay and focus on the story with many helpful features.


    Are you a screenwriting master?

    Who directed "The Dark Knight"?
    A J.J. Abrams
    B Tim Burton
    C Christopher Nolan
    D Zack Snyder