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Elephant Memories: Thirteen Years in the Life of an Elephant Family

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  527 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Cynthia Moss has studied the elephants in Kenya's Amboseli National Park for over twenty-seven years. Her long-term research has revealed much of what we now know about these complex and intelligent animals. Here she chronicles the lives of the members of the T families led by matriarchs Teresia, Slit Ear, Torn Ear, Tania, and Tuskless. With a new afterword catching up on ...more
Paperback, 364 pages
Published July 15th 2000 by University of Chicago Press
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Scott Munden
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ever since I can remember elephants have fascinated me. Their sheer size, their flapping ears, the rumbling and trumpeting noises they make, the slow and methodical way they walk and their amazingly beautiful tusks combined to furnish my young mind with the wonders of a world an ocean away.

As I grew older and read more, I began to appreciate elephants for their intelligence, the complexity of their lives and families (immediate and extended) and their ability to endure drought and human cruelty.
Marcy prager
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I felt like I was in the Land Rover with Cynthia Moss as she described in great detail the behaviors of elephants. In her thirteen years observing elephant behavior, Cynthia watched the younger and older elephants sparring, rolling and bathing in mud. She learned that elephants are quite tactile, touching and leaning against each other. Their greeting ceremonies are elaborate. The grumble, lift and spread and flap their ears, trumpet, scream, spin, urinate and defecate. Greetings among elephants ...more
Maureen Moriarty
Sep 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Been to Africa three times and once stayed in an "elle camp" outside of Victoria Falls where I once bathed an elephant which was truly a life highlight. What amazed me about the experience was how the elephant was communicating with me through his eyes and trunk. LOVE elephants and Moss helped me understand them,they have amazing emotional souls. How anyone can kill one is beyond me. ...more
Christie Bane
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was interesting because it’s always interesting to learn about the habits and behaviors of another species, especially one as grand and magnificent as the African elephant. The writing was competent, but not overly engaging. Many parts of this book read more like slightly beefed-up field notes than like a story of elephant life. I found myself reading it more out of a sense of duty (I started it, so I have to finish it) than because I couldn’t wait to get back into it.)

Still, I know a
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Elephant Memories," by Cynthia Moss is a very enjoyable read. It started of extremely well, describing the life of these elephants, explaining how they ate, slept, exercised, played, nurtured their young, and how dominance and socialization played out in their groups. Although a good amount of the book was describing the lives of these elephants day by day, a large sum of the book described the lives of elephants in general, like a scientific report. In several of the parts it seemed it was get ...more
Debbie Ethell
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For anyone who has ever wondered about the magic and mystery of elephants this book will definitely whet your appetite. Cynthia's stories about Echo and the wild elephants she follows in Amboseli in Kenya broke my heart, made me scream with joy, and above all opened my eyes to these unbelievable creatures in ways I never thought possible. ...more
Jul 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone with an interest in animals or animal beahvior
Well, I learned a lot about elephants from this book. It's written by Cynthia Moss, who spent 13 years living alongside several families of wild african elephants. I was drawn to it because elephants are very intelligent creatures with complex social lives, but are unlike primates in some ways. When I read about chimpanzee behavior it never seems like there's much difference between them and us, other than the amount of time we spend rationalizing what we do.

I enjoyed this book a lot, it was in
Cynthia Moss tells us about 13 years living among and studying the elephants in Amboseli National Park in Kenya in the 1970s and 1980s. (After I finished reading this book I looked her up on the Internet and she's still there, still on the job.) A lot of interesting stuff about elephants and their habits, their society, and their life cycle. The book sometimes seems like it's about to get rather dry, but it never quite does. I found myself enjoying the book more and more as I get deeper into it. ...more
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: african-wildlife, own
Cynthia Moss uses her years of observation and data on the Amboseli elephants, especially one particular family, to describe elephant behavior such a migration, mating, birth, and social interaction. There is an incredible amount of information packed into this book, including whole lineages of elephant families spanning decades. I suppose it could get tedious for some, but I think it was beautifully done. Cynthia Moss comes across as an almost ideal wildlife researcher; she's capable of objecti ...more
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Moss spent 13 years in Amboseli National Park, following elephants and observing their interactions, their behaviors, how they handle everything from birth to death. What happens during a drought?

Rather than a dry scientific paper, this is told with the emotion of a novel and you come to love her "friends," Slit Ear, Teresia, Tuskless and the whole crew. She suffered through the inevitable deaths and gave us a peek at the joyful births. At the end, you feel you really have a
Bob Stocker
Dec 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Elephant Memories by Cynthia Moss describes her observation of wild elephants in Kenya's Ambroseli National Park between 1973 and 1986. Moss strikes a good balance of semi-fictional (but qualitatively accurate) narratives about elephant behavior, discussion of her scientific observations, and descriptions of her personal life while living at a camp in the park.

Elephants are fascinating creatures. Moss's observations of courtship, birth, death, communication, and social structure kept my interest
Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
A most excellent book that tells the story of elephant life in Kenya's Amboseli National Park, Kenya. Moss is the head of the long term study called "The Elephant Project". It is amazing that her name isn't common knowledge like Jane Goodall. A wonderful, enlightening book told in a way that presents the case for the Africian elephant in the best of ways. ...more
Linda Prieskorn
Mar 06, 2015 rated it liked it
I would not reccomend that anyone pick up this book for pleasure reading. It is an interesting scientific study of the elephants of Amboseli National Park in Kenya. It does have interesting narratives about the life of an elephant - I did a lot of skipping around
Siobhan O'Laoghaire-Sannes
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: animals
I hover between 2 and 3 stars for this book. I really wanted to read this book since I was familiar with her and her work. But frankly this book was dry dry dry and I abandoned it halfway through.
Terri ducay
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great book to learn about elephants and their behavior. Highly recommend.
Isabella Mae
Jan 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Ever since I was a little kid I remember being intrigued by the size and huge flapping ears of elephants, although the noise they make used to scare me, the appearance of elephants has always drawn me in. The title and cover image immediately drew me to this book ¨Elephant Memories¨ written by Cynthia Moss is a book that sparked my curiosity about elephants before I even began the read itself. I originally chose this book for the title page. The title made me excited to read it, and curious abou ...more
Jun 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: kenya, africa, non-fiction
This recounts the first 14 years of the author's study of the elephants in Amboseli National Park in Kenya. She learned to identify the elephants, giving them names, and classifying them in families. The study is unique because of it following a single population for an extended period of time. Each chapter starts with a semi-fictionalzed account of the actions of a group of the elephants, followed by a discussion of the focus of that account: migration, daily life, social relationships, mating ...more
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love this book! Cynthia Moss gave such great descriptions of her elephants and their behaviors, and it was so heartwarming to read about elephants playing and elephants giving birth! The pictures are so cute too; I wish I can be there to actually meet the elephants and observe them! She also talks about her life as an elephant researcher and her relationship with the other researchers and the nearby Maasai tribe, as well as how the ecosystem changed over the years and how the elephants have ad ...more
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fascinating and educational book. It was recommended by a volunteer at the elephant exhibit at the zoo years ago and I’m so glad it finally made it to the top of my reading list. I love science and have always loved animals, so the setup of the book to start each chapter with stories of the individuals and herd and then move into the chapter and dive into a topic (communication, mating, social structure, etc.) was perfect. The complexity and intelligence of these animals is apparent, and ...more
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely loved this book! One of my fav reads this year along with Elephant Days And Nights: Ten Years With The Indian Elephant.

Tracks a family of elephants over 13 years over drought and rains, over births and deaths. It was magical reading about the family and their joys and travails. Such beautiful creatures! And towards the end, the author also has one chapter on the challenges faced by them in the form of poaching for ivory, and talks of culling to protect trees.
Jun 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elephants are amazing

It is really interesting to read the stories of scientists and researchers who spend much of their life out in the field. Such adventures!
After reading this book, I want to seek out videos to see the elephants of Amboseli. I never knew that elephants had such complex extended social networks. They are just fascinating. But now on top of everything else going on in the world, I am also feeling despondent about climate change and human encroachment on elephant territory.
Steve Mayberry
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Moss not only makes over a decade of research observations interesting, she fictionalizes entirely plausible backstories to round out the herds' experiences that were not witnessed firsthand. Her prose is at times literary (from the description of a parade of elephants on P1: "... the quiet sluff, sluff of their feet kicked up the fine alkaline dust and their outlines became hazy"). Definitely worth reading if you're interested about large mammal research and conservation, or want to be ...more
Lee Roversi
Apr 07, 2018 rated it liked it
elephants fascinate me. their relationships. their feelings. their precarious position in the world. i somehow expected this book to be more a story than it was. i found the data interesting and the author obviously loved her subjects. however, it was a bit dry for me.
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
An older book but an interesting look at the life cycle of elephants in Africa. The author spent a lot of time observing and studying a large group of elephants so I feel her descriptions of elephant behavior was accurate and not exaggerated.
May 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
Dnf on p. 73. Elephants are not this bloody uninteresting. Another review called this book dry, & it is; dry like a drought. This reads like it could be her daily work notes, transferred into layman's terms. ...more
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the most moving, educational and wonderful books ever read. Even though this is a book written on an adult level, I would recommend parents read this as a bedtime story to their children. The kind of book one can easily read more than once.
Valerie Mauk
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another African book....I'm addicted to them. This one is one of my favorites. Tells of the bond between matriarch (eldest and the boss) and her family of sisters, children and grandchildren. Very interesting reading. I learned a lot about how super intelligent and compassionate elephants can be. ...more
Alyssa Craig
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing book by Cynthia Moss, what a dedicated woman and what an influence she has had on protecting these Amboseli elephants. Its such a shame that humans don't appreciate nature as it is and work more alongside it all, rather than feel the need to try and control it all. ...more
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it
A little academic but a great book to read on my way to Tanzania for an amazing safari.
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
As depressing as i thought it would be.
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Cynthia Moss is an American conservationist, wildlife researcher and writer, who specializes in African elephant family structure, life cycle, and behavior. She is director of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya, where she has studied the same population of elephants for over 40 years, and is Program Director and Trustee for the Amboseli Trust for Elephants (ATE).

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