Tales from All Points

January 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Features

Guest contributor,  Monty Parks

One of the great things about working at a café on Tybee Island is the number of stories our customers have to tell.  One of these stories is from Carol Howard.

On 9/11/09, Carol Howard set out to follow a dream.  She loaded her clothes, her maps and her loyal dog into an SUV towing a vintage teardrop trailer, then turned the key and headed west.  Carol had heard the song of the elephants.

All of her life, Carol has had a love for animals.  Big animals.  Animals that like to use uprooted tree stumps as play toys.  Carol Howard enjoys playing the games that elephants play.  And the elephants had called to her. Carol planned to travel from Tybee to San Andreas, Ca.  This is the home of an organization called PAWS.  PAWS is the Performing Animal Welfare Society, a Sanctuary for animals which have been in show business.  This organization provides shelter to tigers, monkeys, bears, lions and a course, elephants.  PAWS is a nonprofit organization relying on volunteers like Carol to keep the operation running.  She had been accepted at the center as an intern.

Monty Parks is the owner and proprietor of All Points Cafe on Tybrisa in downtown, Tybee. Stop in some morning between 8am - 12pm, call 912-786-9312, or email c.sidecafe@yahoo.com

PAWS was set up by Pat Derby, an animal trainer for television shows during the 1970’s.  She trained animals for shows such as Flipper, Daktari, Lassie and Gentle Ben.  With partner, Ed Stewart, she set out to help change the world of animal training.  Along the way, the two trainers set up PAWS.  Now, there are three separate sanctuaries, the largest being in San Andreas, Ca.

As a true multitasker, Carol also planned to visit several of our national parks along the way.  Her complete route would take her through eighteen states with stops to visit all her favorite parks.  Her number one favorite park was Glacier National Park, followed by Big Sur.  She expected the seven week trip to get lonely, but with the company of her loyal dog, Corey, and the sound of the elephants in her heart, Carol was inspired.

Why elephants?
Carol will explain that elephants are very sensitive creatures.  They greet each other, play games and travel together.  She told of two elephants at the sanctuary in particular.

If these two were apart, even for a brief time, they would rush back together and chirp happily, as if they hadn’t seen each other for days.

These intelligent, sensitive creatures have a safe haven at the Performing Animals Welfare Society.  Here, there are elephants ranging in age from fourteen to forty.  Some of the elephants have been raised all their lives in the sanctuary.  They are allowed to wander at will on the range, swim in the lake and feed in patches of clover.  The website, pawsweb.org, has beautiful pictures of all the animals, including a black leopard named Alexander.  This cat has to be seen to be believed!

During her trip to the PAWS sanctuary in California, Carol saw moose, sea lions, elephant seals, grizzly bears and prairie dogs. All of these creatures were roaming free on our national parks. I couldn’t resist asking the obvious question.

“How do you know if there’s an elephant in the room?”
She laughed and told me the correct answer, which is, of course, by the smell of peanuts on his breath.  So much for me trying to outwit Carol.  She says her training with large, wild animals has helped her as a bartender at Huc-a-poos.  I guess a sense of humor would be crucial if one walks behind elephants.  While working with elephants is her life dream, she will miss her friends here on Tybee, especially at Hucapoos.  She sends a special shout out to Eric and the other members of the Huc-a-family.

And now Carol, how about a retirement home for old party animals?  We could set it up on Little Tybee, letting the old party people roam free in a natural environment.

Don’t forget us, Carol, no matter where the elephant’s song takes you.

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