The Kind Life is a community around Alicia Silverstone and The Kind Diet where friends, doctors, experts in green living, and members share vegan tips.

Animal Love

Kind Crusader: Lawrence Anthony, Elephant Whisperer

I received this from an email and it is so amazing… it almost seems too beautiful to be true. I love this story…

Lawrence Anthony, a legend in South Africa and author of 3 books including the bestseller The Elephant Whisperer, bravely rescued wildlife and rehabilitated elephants all over the globe from human atrocities, including the courageous rescue of Baghdad Zoo animals during the US invasion in 2003.

On March 7, 2012, Lawrence Anthony died. Two days after his passing, wild elephants showed up at his home, led by two large matriarchs. Separate wild herds arrived in droves to say goodbye to their beloved man-friend.

 A total of 31 elephants had patiently walked over 12 miles to get to his South African House.

elephantsphoto source: / blieusong

Witnessing this spectacle, humans were obviously in awe, not only because of the supreme intelligence and precise timing that these elephants sensed about Lawrence’s passing, but also because of the profound memory and emotion the beloved animals evoked in such an organized way. They walked slowly – for days – making their way in a solemn one-by-one queue from their habitat to his house.

So how, after Anthony’s death, did the reserve’s elephants — grazing miles away in distant parts of the park — know?  “A good man died suddenly,” says Rabbi Leila Gal Berner, Ph.D., “and from miles and miles away, two herds of elephants, sensing that they had lost a beloved human friend, moved in a solemn, almost ‘funereal’ procession to make a call on the bereaved family at the deceased man’s home.”

“If there ever were a time, when we can truly sense the wondrous ‘interconnectedness of all beings,’ it is when we reflect on the elephants of Thula Thula. A man’s heart stops, and hundreds of elephants’ hearts are grieving. This man’s oh-so-abundantly loving heart offered healing to these elephants, and now, they came to pay loving homage to their friend.”

Lawrence’s wife, Francoise, was especially touched, knowing that the elephants had not been to his house prior to that day for well over 3 years! But yet they knew where they were going. The elephants obviously wanted to pay their deep respects, honoring their friend who’d saved their lives – so much respect that they stayed for 2 days  and 2 nights without eating  anything.

Then one morning, they left, making their long journey back.

Here is a tribute to Mr. Anthony:

Mr. Anthony is survived by his wife, Francoise Malby; his mother, Regina; his sons, Dylan and Jason; and two grandsons. The elephants also survive him. Since his death, his son Dylan told reporters, the herd has come to his house on the edge of their reserve every night.

– NY Times

Have you heard any beautiful stories recently?

I’d love to read or watch them! Share them in the comments below, please.


top photo source:


  • Sarah Labrum Speier

    This was truly amazing and when I read it to my husband, even he got choked up. What a testament to this guys life and heroic efforts when it came to saving this beautiful giants.

  • Beth Joling

    I’ve read the Elephant Whisperer and the Last Rhino. They’re hands down the most amazing books I’ve ever read in my lifetime (I’m about to be 46). Lawrence had a gift of making you want to be better – to do better – to get up and DO! I know that for me – those two books changed my life – I feel like my brain has been rewired for the betterment of all things living. I wish I could throw all my western ways out and go to Thula Thula or any place that needs help really (I’m looking in my own backyard since Africa isn’t a hop, skip, or a jump away). I’m about ready to read Babylon’s Ark – his first book – I wish I’d read them in succession because the Last Rhino is really a testament to Lawrence – and since Graham Spence finished the book on behalf of Lawrence as a result of his untimely death it really seals the deal – you know….? He leaves you wanting to leave the planet better. <3 Read these books…. but be prepared to rise up and be a better human to the animals around you :)

  • Barbara Wiseman

    Dear Alicia, Thank you so much for forwarding Lawrence’s magnificent
    story and helping to keep alive the legend of this great man. Lawrence
    was a very dear and close friend of mine and, together, we began the non-profit
    called The Earth Organization and I took on the post of its International
    President and the Executive Director of our U.S. headquarters. When
    Lawrence passed away, I immediately jumped on a plane and flew to South Africa
    to be with his family and our staff there to help them and be together through
    that extremely difficult time. Because we wanted the public to know that
    we were dedicated to forwarding his vision and legacy, we added his name to the
    name of the organization and now call ourselves the Lawrence Anthony Earth
    Organization (LAEO).

    Certain aspects of the story about when Lawrence passed away and how the
    elephants came to his house in mourning have been embellished through all the
    various tellings; yet the most important parts of it are very true. Not
    to leave you in any mystery as to what really happened and what didn’t, when
    Lawrence died, he was in Johannesburg, which is about 300 miles away, as the
    crow flies, from his game preserve called Thula Thula where he and his wife,
    Francoise, lived. The elephant herd, whom he had befriended about 12
    years earlier and with whom he had an almost mythological relationship,
    immediately perceived it. Every time Lawrence would go away on a trip,
    the night he returned, they would perceive he was coming, and within a few
    hours of his arrival, the whole herd would show up at his house to see
    him. Sometimes they wouldn’t have been to the house in a couple of
    months, and the night he arrived, here they would come.

    I saw it two times myself, as one of the ways that our organization helps to
    raise funds for our environmental and conservation work is that we take small
    groups of people down to Thula Thula on what we call Eco Safaris. Twice,
    when I was bringing a group, I arrived on the same day when Lawrence was
    getting back from some trip, and a few hours later, here would come “the
    ellies”, as they affectionately call them there.

    When Lawrence first saved and befriended the herd, the matriarch, Nana, was
    pregnant. When she had her first baby, she brought the herd and the baby
    up to Lawrence’s house and pushed her newborn in front of her to show the baby
    off to Lawrence. This was an extraordinary event because she was a
    totally wild elephant. In kind, when Lawrence’s first grandchild was
    born, he took the baby out into the bush and called out to Nana. When she
    came, he held the baby up for her to see. (The full and most marvelous
    story of his relationship with the herd is told well in his book “The
    Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Bush” and I highly recommend it.)

    The herd hadn’t been up to his house in about 3 months when he passed
    away. But they must have perceived it, and they walked 12 miles to his
    house, with a new baby in tow, and stayed there for a few hours, obviously very
    agitated and in mourning. Then they did something that they always do
    when a member of their herd dies: they moved off into the deep thicket of
    the bush for a few days where no one could see or find them.

    We held three different memorials for him – one for the public at Moses
    Mobida Stadium, one was a tribute to his life that we put on at the Durban
    Convention Center, and the private one for family and friends which was held on
    the shores of a lake on Thula Thula that was his favorite spot in the game
    preserve. It was a sad but extraordinary experience; and while we didn’t see the
    elephants that day, one of the game rangers thought he heard their telltale
    stomach rumblings in the nearby thicket and we suspected they were there. The
    game preserve was 36,000 acres at that time.

    At the private memorial, his ashes were spread on the lake, and his family and friends were invited to say a few
    words and I spoke about what was in my mind – that wonderful part of the movie
    Out of Africa when Karin von Blixen had to leave to go back to Denmark and her
    faithful servant asked her if it was very far away. She responded something
    like “Do you remember when we used to go out on Safari and you would go
    ahead and light a fire for me so that I could see where you were and bring the
    wagons? It will be something like that.” His response to her
    was “Then you must light a very big fire so that I can find
    you.” I likened that to the fact that, through continuing Lawrence’s
    legacy with this amazing environmental and conservation organization we were
    going to light such a big fire that he could find us again.

    We would really love to have your help in forwarding Lawrence’s vision, and, if you are
    interested, I would be happy to discuss it with you. I can be reached
    through our office at +1 (818) 769-3410 or by email at [email protected]. To get an idea about some of our work, go to our U.S. web site at


    Barbara Wiseman