Toomai of the Elephants

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Illustration by John Lockwood Kipling (Rudyard's father) T2JB503 - illustration.jpg
Illustration by John Lockwood Kipling (Rudyard's father)

Toomai of the Elephants is a short story by Rudyard Kipling about a young elephant-handler. It was first published in St Nicholas Magazine (December 1893) and reprinted in the collection of Kipling short stories, The Jungle Book (1894). [1] The character Petersen Sahib is thought to be modelled on George P. Sanderson (1848–1892). [2]


The story was filmed in 1937 as Elephant Boy directed by Robert J. Flaherty and Zoltan Korda starring Sabu Dastagir. The story was also produced in 1973 as the TV series Elephant Boy starring Esrom Jayasinghe.


Big Toomai, the boss driver of elephants, takes little pleasure from his work. But his 10-year-old son, Little Toomai, loves the elephants and they understand his kindness. Asking to go on a hunt, his father tells him he can go when he sees the elephants dance, which is something that no man has ever seen an elephant do.

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  1. "Toomai of the Elephants". Reader's Guide. The Kipling Society. Retrieved 17 March 2013. Notes edited by Alan Underwood and John Radcliffe
  2. Tasker, Sir Theodore (1971). "Petersen sahib". The Kipling Journal. Archived from the original on 20 November 2007.