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The Elephant Man

((Banner: The Elephant Man))
((Executive Producer:
Marsha James))
Kaveh Rezaei))
Acton, California))
((CHRIS GALLUCCI, Director, The ROAR Foundation Shambala Preserve))
One day in 1975, a friend of mine and I were riding through this desert and we stopped off at a bar to get a beer and we were just talking to the bartender and he was going, “You know there's a place up the road that's filming a movie and so you guys ought to stop by there if you're looking for work.” And that is how I ended up here.
My name is Chris Gallucci. I am the director of the ROAR Foundation Shambala Preserve, a nonprofit in California.

((Courtesy: Bill Dow/Courtesy of ROAR Foundation))
When I was first hired here, they were building caging and they needed fencing. They needed props. They needed everything and anything that a movie set would need. But this movie set happened to have lions and tigers on it, so therefore, they needed a lot of fence panels. They needed a welder. And so, I was a welder. And so, I'm looking at these two elephants constantly chained up, and I know what it's like to be chained up, and I don't like it.

But this was a very, very long time ago and the original people that worked with the elephants came from a completely different background, and that's how they were taught to deal with these particular animals. I went to [founder] Tippi [Hedren] and her then husband, and said, “Look, I want to work with your elephants. Why? Because I'm going to turn them loose.” And Tippi and her then husband looked at me like, “Dude, you cannot turn that elephant loose. That's the largest African bull in the United States.”
And I just told her, “Just give me a chance, give me a chance at this and just watch. Watch and see what happens.” She came out and said, “OK, all right, we'll give you that chance.”

The first thing that I did when I was given the chance to work with the elephants was, I wanted to take them off their chains. But I also knew that you're dealing with the largest animal that walks the face of the earth. You let an elephant get out of control, you have a problem that you cannot control. And so, I started making their chain longer, and then I would take them off the chain and put food 500 feet in front of them, have another chain set up and then they'll go to the food and then chain them up. Now, I just got 500 feet. So, the next day, I want a thousand. Next day, I went 2000. Pretty soon, you've gotten a mile with no chain. The trick is to get the animal to bond with you without the animal know he’s bonding with you.

((CHRIS GALLUCCI, Director, The ROAR Foundation Shambala Preserve))
And so, it's this whole evolution of trust that you end up creating with an animal while the animal doesn't know it. Like I said, the animal was following me. As the years go by, no more chains and I'm following them. And so, just constantly learning, learning, learning, learning, figuring out the animal.

Every day, when I would take them out of the barn, they used to stick their nose in the big dumpster. One day, I ran out of the barn, jumped in the dumpster and they didn't know I was in there. They both stuck their noses in the dumpster and I just came popping out. And so then, they both look behind them. It's like, ‘this dude’s everywhere.’ I just got you. I got exactly where I want you, and so that's how I successfully became the Elephant Man.