About the Film

Where does an elephant go after a life in the circus? Sixteen years have passed since circus producer David Balding adopted Flora, the orphaned baby African elephant he lovingly raised as part of his family and made the star of his show. As Flora approaches adulthood, he realizes that she is not happy performing. Ultimately, David must face the difficult truth that the circus is no place for Flora. She needs to be with other elephants. The road to Flora’s retirement, however, is a difficult and emotional journey which tests their bond in unexpected ways. Ten years in the making, One Lucky Elephant explores the consequences of keeping wild animals in captivity, while never losing sight of the delicate love story at its heart.


Where to Watch

Buy the DVD/BluRay from Virgil Films

Rent or Buy from Amazon

Rent on Netflix


“Sweet, heart-and trunk-tugging.” — Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“Charming” — NPR.org

“A poignant documentary whose simple premise masks a substantial emotional wallop.” — Rotten Tomatoes, The Onion AV Club

“A parable, one that’s less about elephants or animals than about human beings” — Salon.com

“A captivating father and daughter narrative…wholly satisfying…a compelling antidote to the man vs nature narrative…illuminating” — Sam Kressner, Film Critic.com

“This superbly informative, affecting documentary about an undying bond between man and beast may well be the most moving film of 2011… Forget Garbo and Robert Taylor in Camille, or even Leo & Kate in Titanic. One Lucky Elephant reveals a love story even more heartbreaking, that between circus impresario David Balding and Flora, an African elephant he has trained since infancy to perform…clear-headed yet passionate…pulls the viewer in so powerfully that you can feel the cliffhanger-like, fraught anxiety shared by both master and beast.”–David Noh, Film Journal International

“Leeman exquisitely controls the dissemination of information in “One Lucky Elephant,” peeling back the layers of the story to deepen our understanding and emotional investment.”– Moving Pictures Magazine

“An emotionally charged argument for reconsidering how we treat all animals.” — Huffington Post

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