Ten Year Old Bonds With Elephants

Winston in southern Oregon is where many tourists stop on their journeys north and south along Interstate 5; it's where Wildlife Safari is.  Recently the park acquired some help in the form of Wylie Malek, an autistic young boy people are calling a "natural elephant man."  It seems he's bonded with the gentle giants, and has had breakthroughs of his own.
The young man's communication skills have improved through the interactions, his father said, both with the adults at Wildlife Safari and with kids in his classes at Green Elementary. Sometimes it is hard to get the otherwise reserved boy to stop talking about the elephants, his father said. When he recites for the fifth time how much an elephant can eat, his family has to change the subject, Kris Malek joked.

Link | via The Obscure Store and Reading Room | Photo Credit: Robin Loznak

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Elephants never accidentally hurt somebody, they can feel a single piece of hay on their skin and they always know exactly where they're feet are since if they hurt their feet they die. They may accidentally give you a flat tire if YOU'RE not paying attention to where you walk but that your fault, not the elephants. I think this child mostly helps clean the stalls and yards and is only in direct contact with the elephants when there are at the very least, two handlers present and the elephant is calm and relaxed.
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Happy, not abused elephants, being such intelligent, social creatures, surely recognize that this boy is vulnerable. He is of no menace to them. They have befriended him and may even feel protective of him.
This is great.

I know 2 autistic boys that I see about once a week. Wow. I can relate to the father's joking comment!
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