~Meet WFE Rosie!~


April 24, 2011 ~ Below is a  Behind-the-Scenes video from the American Humane Association with regard to Water for Elephants and the treatment of the animals involved in the production of the film:

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…

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Published on May 14, 2010 at 3:19 pm  Comments (12)  

12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for sharing wonderful .So interesting to read a little bio about Tai! It is just awesome.

  2. Wonderful blog. Would love to meet Sara to discuss her circus research. Im a retired English teacher and love researching myself. Thanks for your passionate blog.

  3. I absolutely adore Rosie/Tai . She is amazingly intelligent . I am glad that the movie , helps create awareness of animal cruelty and how we humans should be ashamed of ourselves when animals such as Tai teach the lessons of love and loyalty that maybe don’t show for animals . God bless you and your wife for your dedication to the love , care and preservation of beloved animals like Tai .

  4. I have a photo with my mother in costume with her elephant, Babe, from the A.G. Barnes circus circa 1927. Back then each performer (my mom was a dancer) was assigned an animal. They were to make sure the animal was fed, watered & exercised properly. They didn’t do it themselves, just kept track. That practice vanished when these small shows went out of business and were folded into the Ringling shows. I remember hearing a story from my mom about an elephant that killed the ringmaster. Great book and we just saw the film. Loved it. The stories of some of the peripheral acts are worth movies of their own. The “little people” were the munchkins in the Wizard of Oz. My mother was “adopted” by Hawaiians who were Roustabouts. They taught her the hula and when the A.G. Barnes circus folded they took their show to the big hotel showrooms in New York, Chicago, Montreal, etc. That started my mom’s 10 year career as a professional dancer. Her trunk of expensive costumes was stolen off a train in 1937, she married my dad and had me and that was that for her showbiz career.
    Here’s to Tai and all the wonderful animal actors. Let’s hope she can save her species.

  5. Love the blog!! I just cant wait for the movie to come out….I would love to see Tai in the movie…She’s so clever and smart..It’ll be a great movie!!!

  6. *Great* blog! Keep up the good work! We *love* Circus, and Tai, and Water for Elephants!

    Are you familiar with Circus Fans Association of America? We’re a big family of Circus supporters. You can find out about CFA at circusfans.org.

    Thanks again!

  7. Kari, it is heatwarming to know that Tai is well loved and that she likewise gives love to those around her. I loved reading this.
    I was also charmed to read what Sara Gruen wrote in the very last portion of her book; that Rosie’s character was based on several real elephants. Sara mentioned one who “would pull her stake out of the ground to go and steal lemonade” and then later she’d put it back in again. The roustabout would get blamed. That’s such a funny story. Apparently, elephants can be clever! Thank you, Sara Gruen, and to all of you who were part of the movie.

  8. So interesting to read a little bio about Tai! I loved it! Thanks for posting! Can’t wait to see her in the film!

  9. She’s truly awesome – Cheers Tai!!!

  10. Elephants are such wonderful animals and it is a shame the Asian elephant is an endangered species. Hopefully Tai’s part in the “Water for Elephants” movie will showcase how truly remarkable these animals are. The relationship between Rosie and Jacob, actually Jacob’s relationship with all the animals, is a very moving part of this book. I love the part where Jacob knows that his father would want him to love and care for these animals.

  11. I’m so excited to see Tai on screen as Rosie. What a lovely creature!

  12. She’s beautiful! She’s my favorite character in the book, and now I can’t wait to see her come to life on the big screen.


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