On the animal kingdom’s 10-point scale of adorable critters, Golden Retriever puppies regularly come in on top, while aging gray elephants rarely make it onto the list. But when it comes to lovability, Hannah, the sole elephant at Seattle’s dilapidated Max L. Biedelman Zoo, is off the charts. Rescued as a baby by the zoo’s founder while on safari in Africa, Hannah has been cared for by Samson Brown for her 41-year captivity. Theirs is an empathetic, symbiotic relationship as Samson transfers all the love deflected by the death of his only child into caring for this slightly needy, somewhat neurotic, but always affectionate creature. But Samson is aging and his health is failing, and the zoo needs a plan. Enter Neva Wilson, an energetic young zookeeper whose creative ideas for Hannah’s well-being immediately puts her afoul of Harriet Saul, the zoo’s petty, tyrannical administrator. To save Hannah’s life, Samson and Neva scheme to transfer her to an elephant sanctuary, though their plan comes with great personal risk. Irresistibly touching, delectably uplifting, Hammond’s understated yet gargantuan tale of devotion and commitment poignantly proves that love does indeed come in all shapes and sizes.
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