As promised – my blog with elepic!

4

A teenage Dale with an Indian elephant As many of you who kindly take the time to read my infrequent ramblings will have noticed I love animals and wildlife, and this started from an early age.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had worked with Indian elephants when I was a teenager.

Well it's true – I'd spent a couple of summer hols working at a local stables and loved being around the horses, but one year I decided to take it up a notch. When I was about 14 I used to cycle the 15 miles each way to Windsor Safari Park from my home every day just to spend the day with four Indian elephants.


The lead elephant Birma was the ex-star of Billy Smart's Circus and had three young companions. The young ones once made the BBC News as they were spooked by the noise of low flying aircraft approaching Heathrow and had to wear ear-defenders! Their names were Yasmin, Davida and Hazel.

The elephants at that time were free to roam around a huge field and the public could stroke them, but they were always under the watchful eye of Jeff the Keeper. I learnt so much about elephants from him and the elephants themselves – trust me they are as smart as people say!

I have eventually managed to dig out a photo, I'm afraid it's not great quality as it was literally stuck in an old 1970's album and ripped when I tried to remove it. The photo shows me with Birma, a grand old lady of many years.

The safari park closed years ago and is now the site of Legoland, but I shall never forget the many stories and hours I spent in the company of Birma and her young pals – it's only now that I fully appreciate how lucky I was all those summers ago.

'Til next time,
Dale. x

4 Comments

  1. Gail August 27, 2010 at 5:58 pm -  Reply

    Dear Dale
    What a lovely, lovely photo. I have been waiting for this picture to appear; well done you! Birma looks absolutely gorgeous and it must have been a complete joy and privilege to be in her company. I too love wildlife and animals, but unfortunatley lost my vocation somewhere along the line and now ill health prevents me from pursuing any dreams. I also remember Billy Smart’s Circus. What happened to the elephants when the Safari Park closed? They are such beautiful parents and will defend their babies to the death (but I know you know that). There is nothing more beautiful than a baby elephant. Lucky, lucky you. Thanks for sharing.
    Gail x

  2. Marg August 31, 2010 at 1:03 am -  Reply

    Thankyou for the picture proof,some of us believed you anyway,I remember one evening you recounting the time when you were known as the Sepoy from Surrey.{excuse my spelling,I might have got your title wrong) but believe it or not my husband remembers me telling him, and he always gives you your title when he catches you on screen,just jealous Dale, just jealous.
    Marg.

  3. DALE FRANKLIN September 13, 2010 at 10:18 pm -  Reply

    Dear Gail and Marg – Thanks, as always for your comments. The elephants were transported every night a few mile down the road to Winkfield nr Ascot where Billy Smarts Winter Quarters were. The Circus had stopped touring and just used to put on a Christmas Special for the BBC etc. But the elephants quarters were very much in use at that time. I worked there (unofficially)for 2 Summer Holidays and a while after Billy Smarts sold the Safari Park and the elephants moved there permanently. I visited them a few years later and found only the 3 young elephants there but I was quite moved that they remembered my voice and became quite excited when I called their names. There was a new keeper and he didn’t believe I used to work there and wouldn’t let me touch them – I can understand why now, although I couldn’t at the time. That was the last I saw of them, but I have great memories and some tatty photos!
    Dale x

  4. Brenda Pinkney (Mrs) January 17, 2011 at 5:58 pm -  Reply

    Hi Dale. I received my first piece of Diamonique last week the floating necklace, and I also have the white split bale which followed. The quality is stunning, I have given the floating necklace to my daughter, who is delighted also. Iv also some Honora Pearls,the grey/white rope,they are absolutely gorgeous, I shall be buying more,thats for cetain. I do wish some clip on earrings could be incorporated. Its lovely seeing you all having such fun introducing the programmes. Sincerely Brenda

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