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I came to India with the intention of being as open to experiences as possible. My travel partner and I have a very rough itinerary of regions we want to visit (which changes often), but otherwise, I kind of wanted to let India wash over me, and see what came out at the other end.

But the one thing I really wanted to do while here was see a wild elephant.

Elephants have sort of been "my" animal since I was a child. My parents gave me a singing stuffed elephant when I was a baby, and that's what started it. Growing up, I had several stuffed elephants, figurines, and socks and shirts with elephants on them — people would give me these things. As I got older and read more about the gentle giants, I learned how smart and loyal they are, and how their problem-solving skills are highly developed. Their emotions are also very human — they play jokes on each other, miss each other, and mourn their dead.

I knew there was a large Asian Elephant population in southern India, so we made a point to spend a few days here, near Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, in the Western Ghats in Kerala.

We didn't see any elephants inside the sanctuary itself, but on an evening ride out to Thirunelli Temple (a 3,000-year-old temple), we saw SIX wild elephants along the road, and one was a baby!

First we saw two males along the road, each by himself. Their tusks were intense, and I couldn't believe how close to the road they were grazing! We got a really good look at both of them until the lights from the Jeep sent them back deeper into the forest (I felt bad about that).

Then, a bit farther down the road, we saw three females grazing together with a calf. The females were sort of shielding the baby with their bodies, but we got a little look at all of them, and it was amazing! Definitely a highlight of the trip for me!

Since it was nighttime, the photos we took aren't very good, but I wanted to share one anyway.

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