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NYC - Public Lecture Series feat. Caitlin O'Connell

ELEPHANT DON: The Politics of a Pachyderm Posse

This event will be streamed live. Please visit our Live Stream page at 7pm on the evening of the event to view the lecture for free.

Meet Greg. He’s a stocky guy with an outsized swagger. He’s been the intimidating, yet sociable don of his posse of friends—including Abe, Keith, Mike, Kevin, and Freddie Fredericks—but one arid summer the tide begins to shift and the third-ranking Kevin starts to get ambitious and seeks a higher position within this social club. But this is no ordinary tale of gangland betrayal—Greg and his entourage are bull elephants in Etosha National Park, Namibia, where, for the last twenty years, Caitlin O’Connell has been a keen observer of their complicated friendships.

In Elephant Don, O’Connell, one of the leading experts on elephant communication and social behavior, takes us inside the little-known world of African male elephants, a world that is steeped in ritual, where bonds are maintained by unexpected tenderness punctuated by violence. Elephant Don tracks Greg and his group of bulls as O’Connell tries to understand the vicissitudes of male friendship, power struggles, and play. A frequently heart-wrenching portrayal of commitment, loyalty, and affection between individuals yearning for companionship, it vividly captures the incredible repertoire of elephant behavior and communication. Greg, O’Connell shows, is sometimes a tyrant and other times a benevolent dictator as he attempts to hold on to his position at the top. Though Elephant Don is Greg’s story, it is also the story of O’Connell and the challenges and triumphs of field research in environs more hospitable to lions and snakes than scientists.

Readers will be drawn into dramatic tales of an elephant society at once exotic and surprisingly familiar, as O’Connell’s decades of close research reveal extraordinary discoveries about a male society not wholly unlike our own. Surely we’ve all known a Greg or two, and through this book we may come to know them in a whole new light.

Dr. Caitlin O'Connell is a Consulting Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine and a world renowned expert on elephants and vibrotactile sensitivity. She is the author of the internationally acclaimed nonfiction science memoir, The Elephant's Secret Sense (2007, Free Press), which highlights a novel form of elephant communication as well as their conservation plight. Her narrative nonfiction photo book An Elephant's Life (2011, Lyons Press) uses a graphic novel approach to revealing subtle and intimate aspects of elephant society. Her co-authored nonfiction children's book, The Elephant Scientist (2011, Houghton Mifflin Children's Books) won five awards, including the Robert F. Sibert Honor and Horn Book Honor for 2012. A Baby Elephant In The Wild (2014, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers) is a Junior Library Guild Select, and Elephant Don: The Politics Of A Pachyderm Posse (University of Chicago Press) comes out April 6, 2015.

Her debut novel, Ivory Ghosts, comes out with Random House, March 2015. O'Connell is the co-founder and CEO of the nonprofit organization, Utopia Scientific, dedicated to research and science education. She is also co-director of Triple Helix Productions, with a mandate to develop more accurate science content for the media. She has written five screenplays with science themes and has just finished her first co-authored novel to inspire girls with an interest in physics. She has taught Science Writing for Stanford University and The New York Times Knowledge Network.

You can learn more about Caitlin at her author website, her elephant blog, and be sure to watch an award-winning documentary about her research on the Smithsonian Channel.

Date: 4/6/2015

Time: 6:00 pm Reception, 7:00 pm Lecture

Location: Club Headquarters, 46 E 70th Street, New York, NY, 10021

Member Ticket Price: Free

Guest Ticket Price: $20

Student Ticket Price:

Free for EC Student Members, $5 w/ valid Student ID

Reservation Notes:

Reservations are allotted on a first-come, first-serve basis.

To secure a place, please call us at 212.628.8383 or email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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