Ooligan Press

Elephant Speak: A Devoted Keeper’s Life Among the Herd By Melissa Crandall


When Roger Henneous first dons his keeper uniform and sets foot in the Oregon Zoo, he doesn’t know what to expect. Over Roger’s thirty-year career, he discovers the joys, pains, and dangers of life in a zoo, all the while maintaining an unwavering devotion to Belle, Packy, and the rest of the Asian elephants he cares for. Roger faces many risks—but his willingness to learn the elephants’ language earns him a rare level of trust among the herd, reminding us how much we can achieve when we choose to listen.


“Told with compassion and intimacy, Elephant Speak is the story of one man, but it’s also the story of so much more. It’s the story of the elephants themselves, of the growing professional standards of zoos, and of the changing nature of elephant care. At times upsetting, always moving, Crandall’s writing never shies away from the truth. Elephant Speak is a must-read if you love elephants.” – Janie Chodosh, author of Wild Lives: Leading Conservationists on the Animals and the Planet They Love

“My thanks to Melissa Crandall for offering the reader an opportunity to enjoy a great story, learn about a remarkable man and the elephants he cared for, and, at the end of the last page, want to be a part of the effort to help the Asian elephant on his challenging trek to the next century.” – Linda Reifschneider, President of Asian Elephant Support

“In the spirit of All Creatures Great and Small, Melissa Crandall’s Elephant Speak is an inspired, and inspiring, tale of shared devotion between a man and an elephant herd, fostered through a language that transcends barriers: love. Both timely and timeless, this is a story that needed to be told—and by somebody with the intimate familiarity to tell it.” – John B. Valeri, book reviewer and writer for National Book ReviewThe News and Times, and The Strand

About the Author

Melissa Crandall is a writer and essayist whose work has appeared in dozens of publications—including Allegory MagazineWild Musette, ASPCA’s Animal Watch Magazine, and the Journal of the Elephant Managers Association—and she is also the author of Darling Wendy and Other Stories and Weathercock. Her short fiction has been featured in numerous collections, with her stories “The Cellar” and “Thicker Than Water” both nominated for Pushcart Prizes. Melissa is a member of the Authors Guild and the Elephant Managers Association and currently resides in Connecticut with her husband. Her personal website: https://melissacrandall.com/

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  • Available in: 5.5″ x 8.5″, Trade Paperback | 300 pages
  • ISBN: 9781947845107
  • Published: March 3, 2020

Elephant Speak
Start to Finish

Elephant Speak project manager Julie with Roger Henneous and Melissa Crandall A Lucky and Successful Launch for ELEPHANT SPEAK This project has taught me what the greatest powers of small presses are: focused attention on a few projects (instead of hundreds each year), strong author relationships, and intimate knowledge of a book’s story and content.