Portrait of an Ear: Your Daily Elephant

No two elephant ears are the same. As pliable and soft as worn canvas, the leading edge of an elephant’s ear is often caught and torn on branches or by the tusks of other elephants. In Zimbabwe I once saw an elephant with a pie-shaped wedge sliced from her ear. In Kenya I watched an adolescent flare her ear like a matador holding out her cape. Backlit by sunlight, three perfectly round holes on its border reminded me of diamond studs. Nearby, a huge bull posed for my gulping camera as I shot an entire roll of film in less than two minutes. Only later, with the film developed and the prints in my hands, did I notice the edges of his ears were as scalloped as an old lace tablecloth.

photograph by Cheryl Merrill

photograph by Cheryl Merrill

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