Meeting Tai the Elephant – Star of ‘Water for Elephants’

Kinker Tink and I (Kinker Jen) were extended the most extraordinary invitation to visit Tai and her sisters at the Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT) ranch in Perris, California on February 19! It was a magical day and a rare treat – HTWT doesn’t usually allow guests at the ranch. Our visit was part of an overall goodwill mission to raise further awareness to EEHV, an elephant disease that is wiping out the Asian elephant population at an alarming rate. EEHV recently claimed the life of JP, the 3 1/2 year old son of Rosie, Tai’s sister, which I (very sadly) blogged about a couple weeks ago.

Tink and I arrived bearing gifts – a giant fruit basket and bag of peppermints for Tai, and a bouquet of spring flowers and Team Rosie pins for Kari, Tai’s human mommy. We didn’t really know what to expect, we just knew we’d get to see Tai in person. Our expectations were met and completely exceeded! Kari had invited a handful of friends and supporters of elephant conservation the same day as our visit. We were given the grand tour of the HTWT 10 acre elephant ranch, treated to a circus-worthy show, fed the gift basket contents to Tai, given an elephant ride atop Becky, and peppered Tai with questions about filming with Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. In all, we lived it up at the HTWT ranch for about 3 hours!

People that know me would say that I am never speechless, but you’ll witness my speechlessness as I babble and giggle my way through our Q&A with Tai! Who knew I’d fan-girl over an elephant?

Read our Tai-normous filming facts and see the pics and vid after the jump!

Here are a few WFE filming tidbits that we learned during our visit:

  • The studio in fact brought Rob, Reese and Christoph out to convice them to do the movie.
  • Rob fell in love with Tai after doing loads of tricks with her and seeing how intelligent she is. #TaiPattz anyone? 😉 He was all over her, thrilled to be in her presence. After the meeting when he was driving back to LA, he was calling people telling them how excited he was meeting her and doing the movie.
  • Reese loved Tai. They have a routine together in the movie, so she trained with Tai for countless hours over many weeks.
  • Christoph brought his whole family to meet Tai.
  • Everyone was a sweetheart and all were genuinely nice and very respectful of Tai.
  • Tai would recognize Rob and Reese because they spent so much time together on the set.
  • Tai would spend days at a time out on set to make it easy on her.
  • Rosie (the real one!) is also in WFE! She has a bit part in the “modern circus” scene.
  • Reese and Tai did a Vogue magazine shoot – not sure when it hits stands but probably March or April edition.

We’ve got a 15 minute video and LOTS of pictures that summarize our visit with Tai and her sister, Rosie (the real Rosie!). Enjoy and don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments section at the end of this page!

As we get closer to the premiere of Water for Elephants movie, we’ll be auctioning off Tai’s self-portrait to raise money for EEHV research. In the meantime, if you have just $1 to spare, please forsake that Starbuck’s latte today and donate to EEHV research at www.elephantconservation.org.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!
It’s giveaway time!

Water for Elephants is on the horizon and we thought it would be fun to pass the time by giving stuff away! But what prizes?? We’ve done buttons and tshirts… Well, our official partner, Algonquin Books, really came through for us, offering movie tie-in editions of Water for Elephants!! Even more exciting? Sara Gruen signed them all! *Wild Kinker Applause*

Autographed by Sara Gruen!!

Each week until April 22 we will be giving away a trade paperback copy of Water for Elephants signed by Sara Gruen!

Here’s how it works: Each Monday, starting today, we will tweet the code you need to enter on Twitter. Our Twitter is: H2OforElephants. Giveaways will run from noon on Monday until noon on Friday (Pacific Standard Time). We’ll use Tweetaways to draw a winner every Friday until Water for Elephants opens in the USA 4/22/11. The giveaway is worldwide and you only need to enter once per week to be eligible.

Huge thanks to Algonquin Books and Sara Gruen for making this possible!

We’re looking into a separate giveaway for our readers who aren’t on Twitter. Watch the blog and our Facebook page for that announcement.

Good Luck!