February 27, 2011 ~ Meet Tai’s ‘personal physicians’: Dr. Linda Reeve Peddie and her husband Dr. James Peddie are two very lucky Veterinarians who manage the health care of Tai/Rosie and her herd mates at the Johnson’s Perris, California ranch, aka: Have Trunk Will Travel… Here is an excerpt from the excellent article written by Donald Smith, Professor of Surgery and Dean Emeritus at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine ~ “When the movie, Water for Elephants, opens on April 22nd, all eyes will be on Tai, the 42-year-old Asian elephant who plays the lead role of “Rosie”. Veterinarian Dr. Linda Reeve Peddie considers “Rosie” the best-trained and most mature elephant in the world.” Please read the rest of the article at Veterinary Legacy. On another, sad, HTWT related note: One of the Johnson’s young (3 1/2 yrs. old) elephants, JP, (who was named after Dr. James Peddie) passed away recently from Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes virus that causes death in calves. Please visit Help Elephants Now to learn more about JP, the deadly EEHV virus and how you can help! (Please click on the link!)
July 19, 2010 ~ I just received this wonderful email from Kari Johnson (Tai’s mum) with regard to Tai and her Water for Elephants filming experience… Here’s what Kari wrote:
“Tai is cast in the role of Rosie in the film, “Water for Elephants”. She is a 42 year old female Asian elephant. At 8’ 8” feet tall and close to 9,000 pounds Tai really is the biggest star in Hollywood. Her co-stars are never jealous of her looks and talent because of her winning personality and sweet disposition. Who says an over 40, female, plus-size actor with wrinkles and little gray can’t get work? Bananas, apples, carrots and palm fronds are some of Tai’s favorite foods. Her main diet consists of 150 pounds or so of oat hay with some grass hay mixed in for variety. She enjoys grazing on fresh grass and munching on tree leaves and small limbs. Tai drinks up to 50 gallons of water a day to wash it all down. Home is Have Trunk Will Travel Ranch in Perris, California where Tai lives with five other elephants and her human family. When she is home she gets baths, exercise, training and relaxing time along with the other elephants. When Tai is on set she gets the same care, along with a lot of human attention from the cast and crew. Tai travels in a state-of-the-art 48’ long specially built trailer. It has everything she needs to keep her cool and comfortable. The trailer is a good place for her to relax and snack during breaks from filming. She also enjoys stretching her legs and exploring the location. Gary Johnson is Tai’s head trainer. Gary is founder and owner of Have Trunk Will Travel, Inc. along with his wife, Kari. Gary started working with elephants at age 16 and has been living his dream ever since. Tai has been with Gary for 34 years. Joanne Smith is Tai’s assistant trainer. Joanne has loved elephants since she was a toddler. She is a graduate of the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program at Moorpark College. She has been handling and caring for elephants for 21 years, 15 of those years at Have Trunk Will Travel, Inc. The American Humane Association (AHA) (www.americanhumane.org) monitors animal action in film and television. Anytime Tai is on the film set an AHA representative is present to help ensure her safety and welfare. AHA also observes during pre-training, rest and play time. The director, producers and the entire cast and crew are respectful of Tai’s needs and comfort and a pleasure to work with. Elephants are the heart and soul of Have Trunk Will Travel and we are honored to live and work with them and to be able to share their talents. Tai is an ambassador for her species, the endangered Asian elephant. We are very proud of the home we have built for our elephants and of the lives they touch through film and public appearances. The International Elephant Foundation (IEF) (www.elephantconservation.org) is the elephant charity that Tai supports. Gary is a founding board member and Have Trunk Will Travel, Inc. donates to IEF to help elephants worldwide. You can help elephants and learn more about them by visiting: The International Elephant Foundation www.elephantconservation.org The Elephant Managers Association http://www.elephant-managers.com” Thank you Kari for sharing with us with regard to Tai… she’s so loved!
May 14, 2010 ~ “I meant what I said, and I said what I meant… An elephant’s faithful – one hundred percent!…” Dr Seuss aka Theodor Geisel from his book, “Horton Hatches the Egg, 1940… (excerpted from Water for Elephants, the novel, by Sara Gruen) Those clever words carry more weight than one may realize… Rosie, our ‘other WFE heroine’, has pledged her ‘loyalty’ to Jacob… She’d do anything for him and Marlena; she unites them. Rosie (as portrayed in the image above by Tai) is the centerpiece of this book and film. She’s a metaphor for purity and unconditional love; two of the subtopics/subtexts of this amazing story. There was much interest surrounding ‘who’ would be portraying ‘Rosie’ in the WFE film, but there was really only one logical choice… There are very few ‘animal actors’ up to the task of fulfilling such important shoes and the lovely and amazing Tai from “Have Trunk Will Travel” will be portraying our beloved Rosie. Gary and Kari Johnson’s sanctuary is Tai’s home and along with her eight other family members the Johnsons have established themselves as loving caretakers of these beautiful creatures. Their elephants have some pretty impressive acting CV’s. Most of them have appeared in many major films and advertisements, along with special events and weddings.Here’s what Kari had to say about Tai: – “I can tell you that Tai , almost 9,000 pounds, is beauty and grace. She’s 42 years old and has lived with us for over 30 of them. She has a very sweet personality and is super smart. Snacking and napping are some of her favorite pastimes. Tai is a great “Auntie” and she loves playing with baby JP. ~ Kari” Please take a moment to visit “HTWT” as the Johnsons are quite special people and have enormous regard for their elephant ‘family’… More to come as filming progresses…