‘Elephant in a former life…’
In lieu of Valentine’s Day and the warm fuzzy feeling it has parted us with, this blog post is about something equally, if not more uplifting than spending Valentine’s Day in an igloo, or dining atop a skyscraper (excuse the pun). Firstly let me introduce the protagonist of this heart-warming tale, Princess Stéphanie Grimaldi of Monaco, Countess of Polignac, who is as you might have guessed from the name, the princess of the Principality of Monaco and seventh in line for the throne. Carol Gandey who is oneof the directors here at Gandeys World Class Productions had the pleasure of meeting Princess Stéphanie (pictured below) when they were attending the InternationalCircus Festival in Monte Carlo, of which the princess is a patron.
Now onto the story, some may remember back in early 2013 the tale of two elephants named Baby and Nepal (pictured below) who were residents of the Tête d'Or zoo in Lyon, France. These magnificent creatures were ordered to be put down due to a suspected infection of tuberculosis, a disease which could have been a hazard to the animals and visitors alike.
The controversial decision to euthanize the elephants was met with a global outcry and several prominent figures, including Brigitte Bardot (the French former actress turned eminent animal rights activist) and Princess Stéphanie herself fought against the judgement. A petition for a stay of execution was signed by more than 11,000 people and Bardot, rather valiantly threatened to quit the country for Russia if the elephants were killed. Letters, I suspect of the strongly worded variety were also sent by both Bardot and Princess Stéphanie to the current President of France, François Hollande beseeching him to overturn the decision.
In light of this justifiable strong reaction, and evidence that suggested the elephants needed to be retested, it was decided that they would be placed into the care of the princess herself. On July 12th 2013, the elephants were subsequently moved to the Grimaldi royal family's property ‘Roc Agel’ in the Alpes Maritimes, which boasts a 3500m2 purpose built enclosure for the elephants to live out their lives in royal comfort, and away from the trigger happy zoo keepers.
The princess has quite the affiliation with elephants due to her active involvement within the circus world; she is quoted as saying “I feel I must have been an elephant in a former life. I love the sensitivity and peaceful force of these creatures”. As well as the princess and her royal siblings being patrons of the Monte Carlo International Circus Festival, she also serves as the Honorary President for the Fédération Mondiale du Cirque. This unique international organisation aims to promote and preserve circus arts and culture in this modern age and also hosts World Circus Day, a worldwide, month long celebration of circus culture taking place from the 20th March, so have your clown costumes at the ready. Princess Stéphanie’s love for circuses stemmed from her father, the late Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, who was fascinated by the circus as a young man, it was the Prince himself who invited Carol Gandey to the International Circus Festival and he also served as honorary ringmaster for the show in past years. We believe that circus traditions are definitely worth upholding, and with such shows as Cirque Du Soleil which finished two days ago at the Royal Albert Hall, and even our own Gandeys Thrill Circus taking place in Liverpool right now, it’s evident that peoples love for circuses is alive and well.
I think everyone will be glad to hear that in the present day the elephants are doing very well, as can be seen in the below video taken in late 2013 of Princess Stéphanie feeding and caring for Baby and Nepal. One could say there being given the royal treatment….queue the tumbleweed. Joviality aside this extraordinary act of kindness does not go unnoticed by us here at Gandeys World Class Productions and it certainly left its mark upon Carol who informed us of the story. So we praise the princess and let’s not forget Bardot, and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.