One Lucky Elephant (2010) Poster

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The theme of separation is universal...
moonspinner554 December 2011
Portly, bearded American circus owner David Balding must part ways with his beloved Flora, the 17-year-old African elephant he raised since she was just one, delivered from her homeland in a crate. Not wanting to retire Flora to a zoo, Balding temporarily stores the elephant at a small facility before transferring her to a sanctuary. The interaction between Flora (who has only known the company of humans for the past 10 years) and the other elephants is extraordinary, and the emotions that flow between David and his "only child" reach right into the heart. Shot over a period of ten years, this documentary was an enormous undertaking for writer-director Lisa Leeman and her production team. The themes here (separation, as well as the emotional bond between humans and animals) are not artificially rendered--indeed, they seem almost stumbled upon--and the personalities involved (of the two and four-legged variety) are likable. Some of the dramatic episodes are not explored, and the finale is abrupt, yet the loving friendship between man and pachyderm is wonderfully realized. **1/2 from ****
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One Lucky Viewer
Richie-67-48585220 September 2013
The value in watching this is to learn what not to do with elephants. These are my favorite creatures of whom I respect and admire. They have majesty, silent purpose and intelligence without displaying an ego. I said that to say this; Man tries to impart an ego into this magnificent beast and is shocked when they rebel or resist. The message is clear. The elephants can stay and man must leave them alone. They don't require anything from man yet we want them to act something other than their purpose. This documentary makes that point and other points leaving you with a sense of regret but better for seeing this special. What is that regret? That we bothered theses creatures to begin with...
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Finding A Home For Flora
roddekker1 November 2016
To be sure - Elephants (though known to be quite gentle in nature) are mighty big animals, indeed, and they are certainly not the sort of beast that you would expect someone to keep as a pet.... But, kept as a pet (a glorified pet, that is) - Flora, the elephant, was by Missouri circus-owner, David Balding.

For the most part - "One Lucky Elephant" was a very informative and eye-opening documentary concerning the fate of a wild creature who was denied its natural environment and (though treated well) was kept captive and away from those of its own kind from the age of 2 to 18 years.

I think that this is the sort of documentary that would appeal, in one way, or another, to a fair-sized audience.... Believe me - This often-insightful presentation certainly contained some very intense moments, especially when it came to the startling footage of documented "elephant rage".
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Everyone Loves Flora
Dalbert Pringle27 October 2016
Meet Flora (a 2 ton couch potato - just kidding) who was, perhaps, the most pampered and beloved elephant in all of America..... Orphaned at 2 years - Flora (who would've otherwise ended up in a zoo) was "acquired" by circus owner, David Balding..... For 16 years Flora and David were the best of friends, as only an elephant and a man could realistically be.

Released in 2010 - "One Lucky Elephant" was certainly a very informative, entertaining, and yes, sometimes touching documentary concerning Balding's personal quest to find Flora (who no longer desired the limelight) a suitable and permanent home..... Through interviews with those who had worked around both David and Flora - The viewer soon begins to realize just how difficult this mission of Balding's really was.

Competently directed by Lisa Leeman - "One Lucky Elephant" (80 minutes in length) is a documentary that's definitely worth a view.

*Note* - In 2014 - David Balding (75 at the time) died due to medical complications.
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Interesting and Fascinating Documentary
Larry Silverstein14 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I found this to be an informative and rather fascinating documentary centering on Flora the elephant. In the wild, when she was young, her mother was killed in front of her. She was subsequently transported and trained to perform in Circus Flora, owned and operated by David Balding.

Balding seemingly treats her, in a way, like his own "daughter". However, after he starts to see signs of aggression in Flora, after many years of performing, he decides to retire her and seek a permanent sanctuary for her.

He wants to find a place for her where she will be happy and co-exist with other elephants. He finds, however, that this is a formidable challenge.

I won't reveal the final result of it all but will leave that to the viewer. I did find the documentary to be quite engrossing and it kept my attention throughout.

It does bring up the whole question again of whether wild animals, and their DNA make-up can really co-exist with humans. When I see circuses in movies or television, I usually feel bad for the animals that are not in their natural habitats.
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More like unlucky...
FcukBsuh2 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Very frustrating to see yet another poor animal used by selfish people to profit under the guise of looking out 'for it's best interests'

These are wild animals pulled from their natural habitats and treated like a pet - except they aren't pets...I found the documentary massively disappointing and entirely insulting

A 'documentary' like this should be standard viewing for misguided & misinformed people who are foolish enough to try and 'adopt a pet' or profit from them in circuses, zoos or sea parks with orcas etc.

We're also condescendingly led to believe that somehow this African elephant is better off in a 'preserve' in rural Tennessee with a handful of elephants rather than the actual wild in Africa.

I love animals and this is not a heartwarming piece, it's a fool's errand packaged to generate funds in all likelihood to maintain a pointless domestic preserve
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Interesting Story about a 'domesticated' elephant's journey
Violet Weed28 July 2014
Very well done story about the journey of an elephant named Flora from a small circus to 'retirement' in a sanctuary for elephants. Some stupid idiot 'phd' female determined that Flora (and other captive elephants) were suffering from 'ptsd'. How moronic! It's bad enough that we make wild animals perform in a circus but then to ascribe their occasional (or frequent) 'acting out' episodes (i.e., 'reacting wild in a non-wild arena') to 'ptsd'... hmmm. I feel THIS way about 'ptsd' when ascribed to HUMANs... MAN UP! Everyone goes through traumatic experiences in life, 'oh well!' THAT'S LIFE. The character of a man (or a woman) determines how one responds to trauma, emotional or physical. EVERY SINGLE SOLDIER in the First / Second World Wars, the Korean War (not a 'conflict' but a WAR), Vietnam, Gulf Wars, etc. suffered after their time at war from feelings of fear, regret, horror. OF COURSE. But some decided to buy into the bull of 'lifelong' ptsd. That is the same kind of baloney as 'attention deficit' "disorder". Now THAT is a matter of self-discipline (in adults) and lack of good mentoring/teaching by 'teachers' or lack of effective, involved parenting by parents. Dr. Swindoll has some excellent books on THAT subject (aka 'boys will be boys') go find 'em and read 'em if you think you have a child with ADD (usually a BOY, btw). Back to this elephant bio... Flora was being an elephant when she 'acts out'. From a baby age, Flora was not raised with other elephants but with human beings who raised her to PERFORM. 18 years of that and any wild animal would be 'skewed' in its reactions to people or other elephants. This was certainly true for Flora. By the time Flora was 'diagnosed' with 'ptsd', she was a young grownup elephant (in her 20s). All she did at that time was BE an ADULT wild animal, who sometimes expressed her emotional response to the world through what WE AS HUMANS call 'aggression' but in the case of an ELEPHANT... is something different. I think the woman who ended up with Flora on her elephant 'sanctuary' made a BAD mistake when she trusted the 'phd' woman who said that Flora had 'ptsd'. She betrayed the trust of both Flora and her former human caregiver, David, by denying Flora the occasional visits from the man who raised her and loved her for most of her life. Still I recommend this 'documentary' about the elephant, but I say 'bah humbug' to the woman caregiver who took over from David (Carol). She imposed human emotions onto an ELEPHANT and decided to be a 'command and control' 'manager' by denying the longevity of elephant memory and also denying the elephant contact with the human man who really does love her. FOR SHAME.
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