Vicki Constantine Croke on special animal and human ties

Thu Sep 25, 2014 5:06am EDT
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By Ngozi Kemjika

NEW YORK (Reuters) - American writer Vicki Constantine Croke has a special place in her heart for animals and their magical connection and friendship with humans, which inspired her latest book, "Elephant Company."

In the book Croke, 56, chronicles the life story of World War One veteran J.H. Williams (1897-1958), who was dubbed "Elephant Bill" because of the unique relationship he developed with the huge creatures while working in colonial Burma for the Bombay Burma Trading Company.

She weaves historical accounts with scenes between Williams and the elephants, and uses his personal writings to tell his story.

Croke, who lives outside Boston, spoke with Reuters about her fascination with animals, the aim of her latest book and her secret agenda.

Q: You have been exploring animal life for more than two decades. Why have you continued with it?

A: My entire career has been one big excuse to pat animals. I came out of the womb this way and it is a dream come true for me to spend my life focused on writing about animals. There isn’t an animal that I don’t like.

Q: In your book “The Lady and the Panda” you told the true story of American Ruth Harkness, who brought the first live giant panda to the United States, and in “Elephant Company” you write about Billy Williams. What is it that attracts you to writing about human and animal relationships?

A: At the very center of what fascinates me is our connection to the animal world and that connection isn’t always as intimate as these two people’s. Both of these stories are like fairy tales for adults to me. Some people grow out of stories about animals, but I never did.   Continued...

American writer Vicki Constantine Croke poses with Emily the elephant at Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford, Massachusetts in this undated handout picture.    REUTERS/Christen Goguen/Handout via Reuters