The Elephant Keeper

Margriet Ruurs and Pedro Covo give a fresh look at some of the planet’s largest land mammals – the elephant.

the_elephant_keeperName: The Elephant Keeper: Caring for Orphaned Elephants in Zambia

Author: Margriet Ruurs

Illustrator: Perdo Covo

Publisher: Kids Can Press, 2017

Written for Ages:  5-9

Summary:  Ruurs brings to the pages the real-life story of a Zambian boy Aaron who discovers an infant elephant in the Lion’s Lodge swimming pool. Thanks to Aaron’s attentiveness and efforts, the young elephant is rescued and taken to a local elephant orphanage. Aaron is able to make a connection with the elephant that others are not. Grieving the death of his father Aaron can relate to the orphaned elephant, who lost his mother to poachers. The elephant and the boy have to figure out how to do life differently. The relationship between the two continues to grow, as the elephant will only receive milk from Aaron.

Scripture Connection: Song of Solomon 2:8-13; 1 Corinthians 13; James 1:27

Theological Connection: This is a beautiful story about the connecting power of love. John Wesley read the above verses from Song of Solomon as the Church expressing her love for Christ. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, defines what love is. One of the primary ways we express our love for Christ is by caring for others, including orphan elephants. In addition, there is a mandate in Scripture (like James 1:27) to care for the orphans and widows. This requires compassion to serve, and compassion to see others as God sees them.

Justice Connection: While this children’s book tells a real-life story, it also includes double-page spreads with helpful information. These pages teach children about elephant biology, the orphanage, and the endangered status of these majestic animals. The plight of the elephant is caused by decisions made by humans. For elephants, the main cause is habitat loss. The number one competitor for land? Humans. Click here to read more about endangered elephants. The love we have for Christ is made evident in the way we treat others and all of creation. The Elephant Keeper is a moving story and is a helpful teaching tool in helping children understand the negative impact human’s choices have on wildlife.

Faith Talk (God Talk):

  1. What would you have done if you were Aaron and you saw a baby elephant in a swimming pool?
  2. What did Aaron learn in this book? What did you learn?
  3. What does Aaron learn about love from the baby elephant?
  4. What do we learn from Aaron about showing love to others?
  5. What could we do to help the elephants or other endangered animals?

Parenting Connection: Children often learn what it means to show love to others by observing the adults in their lives. Pay extra attention to how you express Godly love to all of creation. In addition, caring for animals can help children learn compassion. It can often be stressful to care for a pet. But, from the family dog to the goldfish, children begin to understand what it means to care for creation.

Consider This: There are lots of ways to help orphaned animals in your community. Many shelters are open to volunteers. You or your group could collect gently used blankets and stuffed animals. You could bake dog biscuits (check out Pinterest for a recipe).

You can buy a copy on Amazon or check it out at your local library.


2 thoughts on “The Elephant Keeper

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  1. I’d love to see more encouraging kids to love the earth! We were placed on Earth and told to care for it as a garden, but we seem to lose that message in a lot of Christian circles. Highlighting endangered species like elephants, highlighting our human sin problem such as the greed that leads to the ivory trade, and highlighting how we can be a practical influence and find common ground with nonBelievers by caring for the environment are huge topics more Christians should delve into!

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