Ruby was an Asian or Indian elephant famous for her art. She lived in the Phoenix Zoo and was born in approximately 1973. She was sent to the zoo when she was only a year old. Ruby's talent was discovered when she was seen scratching shapes into the sand with a stick. Once handed a brush and paints, her career began. One of her paintings sold for $100,000. Sadly, Ruby was put to sleep after a problematic pregnancy in 1998.
Batyr, also an Asian elephant, was said to have the ability to mimic human speech precisely. Although he descended from wild Indian elephants, he was born and lived his entire life (1969 - 1993) in the Karaganda Zoo in Kazakhstan, without ever seeing another elephant. Employees of the zoo noticed that he mimicked their speech, and this became a major drawcard for visitors from all over the world. His vocabulary included what sounded like "water", as well as several comments of chastisement to himself, amusing onlookers. Dr. A. N. Pogrebnoj-Aleksandroff studied Batyr and his unique abilities. One of his comments on the phenomenon was, Batyr, on the level of natural blares, said the words "by manipulating a trunk. Having put the trunk in a mouth, pressing a tip of the trunk by the bottom of jaw and manipulating of tongue, said words. Besides, being in a corner of the cage (quite often at the nights) with the hanging down and weakened his trunk the elephant said words very silently that sound is comparable with a sound of ultrasonic devices against mosquitoes. During pronouncing of words, only the tip of the trunk of the elephant has been clamped inside and Batyr made insignificant movements by a finger-shaped shoot on the trunk tip(sic).
It is no secret that elephants are intriguing, alluring and ultimately captivating. However, when we consider the unique abilities and attractions of some of the better known ones, we come to appreciate their value both within the global fauna as well as in our cultural enrichment.