The New York Times bestselling book, “Water for Elephants,” a historical novel that follows the lives of people in a traveling circus, will soon be coming to a theater near you. The film adaptation stars Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson, and the latest trailer for the film was released today!
The movie is sure to bring in a lot of the fans of the book, and perhaps that’s because author Sara Gruen created such a mesmerizing story rich with details. In an interview with Dave Weich, director of marketing for Powells.com, Gruen talks about the research she conducted for the book, and what it was like to see elephants in captivity.
Weich asked if Rosie, the elephant in the book, was based on a real elephant, to which Gruen responded, “Several elephants, yes. There was actually an elephant that would pull her stake out of the ground to go and steal lemonade, and then she’d go back and put her stake back in the ground and look innocent while they blamed the roustabouts.”
Then Gruen discussed the process of getting up close to elephants in captivity, and how that influenced her work. “At the Kansas City Zoo, I observed the elephants with their ex-handler for a couple of days, taking notes on body language and behavior,” Gruen explained.
Then she described meeting an elephant, “It was one of these little circuses that throws a tent up and says, ‘Free tickets!’ And then it’s twenty-dollar popcorn. I snuck out of the big top because it was small and pretty cheesy, but during the show I asked to meet the elephant; the handler gave me a bucket of peanuts and stuck me in an enclosure with this thing. He shut the gate. I was alone with this African elephant. I was looking at her, and she was looking at me like, This is not part of the usual repertoire. So I fed her the peanuts. By the end of it, she was such a love bug. I was hugging her and kissing her, posing for photos. She gave me a kiss, a big, sock puppet, mushy elephant kiss with the end of her trunk. It was really memorable.”
Elephants in captivity are incredibly heartbreaking, but Gruen’s responses go to show how truly warm and gentle these creatures can be. And if you’ve read her book you see that understanding that exists between elephants and humans, that there is a level of communication that can occur. What “Water for Elephants” is truly able to do is humanize these animals, and make them more than mere entertainment, perhaps that’s due to the fact that Gruen is such an animal lover herself.
“I have two dogs, three cats, two goats, and a horse,” the author said. “And if there’s an orphaned anything in the neighborhood, or a stray cat, people know I’m the crazy cat lady. They come and get me.”
Another animal seems to be after Gruen for her next book, the subject of which will be Bonobo Apes, and the award winner writer has already started her research. “They have a lot of sex, for one thing. Of all of the great apes, they’re the most closely related, genetically speaking, to us. They’re really lovely. They have wonderful social groups and interactions.”
We can’t wait to read it! And you can check out the new trailer for “Water for Elephants” below!