Lessons from the Elephant

A young man was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from college. While he was walking through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with great discomfort. Seeing the its distress, he felt compelled to ask the elephant, "What's wrong?" Almost as if it understood, the elephant lifted one leg and held it in the air before putting it back on the ground. Within those moments the man noticed a large thorn deeply embedded in the bottom of the foot.

As carefully and as gently as he could, he worked the thorn out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.  The elephant turned to face the man and gave him what could only be interpreted as a look of gratitude and thanks.  For a good ten minutes the man stood frozen - thinking of nothing else but this fantastic moment of inter-species communication and how greater understanding was possible between two unrelated entities.

Then the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned and walked away. The man never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later the man was walking through the zoo. As he approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to where he was standing at the rail.  The large bull elephant stared at him. Instinctively, the man asked the elephant, "What's wrong?" and the elephant then lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down.  The elephant did that several times, all the while staring at the man. The couldn't help but think this must be the same elephant he had helped so many years ago.

The man summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure.  He walked right up to the elephant and smiled. Suddenly the elephant trumpeted, picked up his leg, and squashed the man with it.

It probably wasn't the same elephant.

Moral of the Story: The same question asked in two different scenarios may elicit similar responses, but have different meanings.

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