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Echo: An Elephant to Remember
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On Wednesday, December 7, 2011, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET and Sunday, December 11, 2011, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET, the PBS series Nature will air an episode called Echo: An Elephant to Remember. Echo, the elephant matriarch, was the subject of many films and the leader of a much studied herd of elephants in Africa. Echo died of natural causes at the age of 65 in May of 2009. This film, which premiered in October of 2010, is a look back at this remarkable animal through extraordinary footage and interviews with the researchers who cared for and studied the herd, which was the subject of a number of documentary films and books over the years. (See list below.).

The film presents significant events in Echo’s life and examines the plight of her fragmented family in the wake of her death and in the midst of a devastating drought in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park where they dwell.  Compelling archival footage and candid observations from those who knew Echo well, including  elephant expert Cynthia Moss, who studied Echo and her family for nearly 40 years, and award-winning filmmaker Martyn Colbeck, who was there with Moss to film good times and bad, create a vivid and moving record of Echo’s life.

Moss and her colleagues had studied and watched Echo and her family for decades, while Colbeck filmed, gaining the trust of the elephants and enabling them to document at close range some of the most intimate moments of the elephants’ lives. Highlights include footage showing Echo’s dedication in caring for her newborn son, Ely, who overcame his crippling condition thanks to her patience and perseverance. (Ely is the subject of a children’s book by Moss. See below.) The film shares many such moments, some heartbreaking and some heartwarming. 

Echo’s legacy is made evident by the footage of the elephant’s struggles to survive the impact of the devastating drought. They must find their way on their own as food and water disappear, grazing animals weaken and die in large numbers, and the drought continues for three scorching years. Older, experienced females in other elephant families die, and valuable family wisdom is lost with them.  But not one of Echo’s valuable adults dies in the drought!

Set your VCR’s and don’t miss this remarkable portrait of the elephant who contributed so much to our understanding of this remarkable species.

Videos About Echo

Echo an Elephant to Remember (The PBS video of this Nature Segment)

Echo and Other Elephants (A two disc series with extended footage narrated by David Attenborough.)

Nature: Echo of the Elephants (An earlier Nature segment available from PBS video.)

Echo of the Elephants: The Next Generation (This is 50 minute film by Colbeck that can be viewed for free by Amazon Prime members.) .

A very moving glimpse of Echo can be seen in this brief YouTube Clip of David Attenborough talking about Echo.

Books About Echo

Elephant Memories: Thirteen Years in the Life of an Elephant Family, by Cynthia Moss.

Little Big Ears: The Story of Ely by Cynthia Moss.

The Amboseli Elephants: A Long-Term Perspective on a Long-Lived Mammal  by Cynthia J. Moss (Editor), Harvey Croze (Editor), and Phyllis C. Lee (Editor).

Echo of the Elephants: The Story of an Elephant Family, by Cynthia J. Moss and Martyn Colbeck.

Posted 9 Dec 2011 2:26 PM by Maria Sosa