Lesson 41 Training elephants 训练大象

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First listen and then answer the following question.


At what point does the training of a captive wild elephant begin?

Two main techniques have been used for training elephants, which we may call respectively the tough and the gentle. The former method simply consists of setting an elephant to work and beating him until he does what is expected of him. Apart from any moral considerations this is a stupid method of training, for it produces a resentful animal who at a later stage may well turn man-killer. The gentle method requires more patience in the early stages, but produces a cheerful, good-tempered elephant who will give many years of loyal service.

The first essential in elephant training is to assign to the animal a single mahout who will be entirely responsible for the job. Elephants like to have one master just as dogs do, and are capable of a considerable degree of personal affection. There are even stories of half-trained elephant calves who have refused to feed and pined to death when by some unavoidable circumstance they have been deprived of their own trainer. Such extreme cases must probably be taken with a grain of salt, but they do underline the general principle that the relationship between elephant and mahout is the key to successful training.

The most economical age to capture an elephant for training is between fifteen and twenty years, for it is then almost ready to undertake heavy work and can begin to earn its keep straight away. But animals of this age do not easily become subservient to man, and a very firm hand must be employed in the early stages. The captive elephant, still roped to a tree, plunges and screams every time a man approaches, and for several days will probably refuse all food through anger and fear. Sometimes a tame elephant is tethered nearby to give the wild one confidence, and in most cases the captive gradually quietens down and begins to accept its food. The next stage is to get the elephant to the training establishment, a ticklish business which is achieved with the aid of two tame elephants roped to the captive on either side.

When several elephants are being trained at one time, it is customary for the new arrival to be placed between the stalls of two captives whose training is already well advanced. It is then left completely undisturbed with plenty of food and water so that it can absorb the atmosphere of its new home and see thatnothing particularly alarming is happening to its companions. When it is eating normally, its own training begins. The trainer stands in front of the elephant holding a long stick with a sharp metal point. Two assistants, mounted on tame elephants, control the captive from either side, while others rub their hands over his skin to the accompaniment of a monotonous and soothing chant. This is supposed to induce pleasurable sensations in the elephant, and its effects are reinforced by the use of endearing epithets, such as‘ho! my son’, or‘ho! my father’, or‘my mother’, according to the age and sex of the captive. The elephant is not immediately susceptible to such blandishments, however, and usually lashes fiercely with its trunk in all directions. These movements are controlled by the trainer with the metal-pointed stick, and the trunk eventually becomes so sore that the elephant curls it up and seldom afterwards uses it for offensive purposes.


New words and expressions 生词和短语

technique (1.1) /tek'ni:k/ n. 技术

ticklish (1.19) /'tikliM/ adj. 难对付的,棘手的

tough (1.1) /t)f/ adj. 强硬的

alarming (1.24) /+'l%:miR/ adj. 引起惊恐的

resentful (1.4) /ri'zentf+l/ adj. 忿恨不满的

accompaniment (1.27) /+'k)mp+nim+nt/ n. 伴奏

assign (1.7) /+'sain/ v. 分配,指派

soothe (1.27) /'su:J/ v. 镇定

mahout (1.7) /m%:'hu:t/ n.驯象的人

chant (1.27) /tM%:nt/ n. 单调的歌

calf (1.9) /k%:f/ n. 幼仔

reinforce (1.28) /?ri:in'f&:s/ v. 加强

pine (1.10) /pain/ v. 消瘦

endearing (1.28) /in'di+riR/ adj. 惹人喜爱的

underline (1.11) /?)nd+'lain/ v. 看重说明,强调

epithet (1.28) /'epiIet/ n. 称呼

keep (1.14) /ki:p/ n. 生计

susceptible (1.30) /s+'sept+b+l/ adj. 易受感动的

subservient (1.15) /s+b's*:vi+nt/ adj. 屈从的

blandishment (1.30) /'bl$ndiMm+nt/ n. 奉承

plunge (1.16) /pl)ndN/ v. 向前冲

lash (1.30) /l$M/ v. 猛烈地甩

tame (1.17) /teim/ adj. 养驯服了的

curl (1.32) /k*:l/ v. 使卷曲

tether (1.17) /'teJ+/ v. (用绳)拴

Notes on the text 课文注释

1 by some unavoidable circumstance,由于某些不可避免的情况。

2 with a grain of salt,有保留地

3 a very firm hand,一个强有力的人。

4 with the aid of,在……的帮助下。

5 This is supposed,据说……。






Comprehension 理解

Answer these questions:

1 Why does the author consider the‘tough’method of training elephants to be stupid?

2 In what way can elephants be compared with dogs?

3 What, according to the author, is the key to successful elephant training?

4 What is the main advantage of training an elephant of between fifteen and twenty years old?

5 What is the main disadvantage of training an elephant of between fifteen and twenty years old?

6 How can tame elephants be used to help in the training of wild elephants?

Vocabulary 词汇

Refer to the text to see how the following words have been used, then write sentences of your own using these words: moral considerations (1.3); turn(1.4); assign (1.7); capable of a considerable degree of personal affection (11.8-9); pined to death (1.10); underline (1.11); subservient (1.15); tethered (1.17); particularly alarming (1.24);monotonous and soothing chant (1.27); blandishments (1.30); lashes fiercely (1.30).

Summary 摘要

Drawing your information from the last paragraph (lines 21-32) write an account of the method used for training several elephants at one time. Use your own words as far as possible. Do not write more than 80 words. Your answer should be in one paragraph.

Composition 作文

Write a composition of about 600 words on one of the following subjects:

1 Pets.

2 Animals in scientific research.

3 ‘It is cruel to train animals to perform tricks for our amusement.’ Discuss.

Key structures 关键句型

A Note the use of the word who in this sentence:

The gentle method produces a cheerful, good-tempered elephant who will give many years of loyal service. (11.4-6)

Write two sentences in which it would be preferable to use who instead of which when referring to animals.

B Rewrite the sentences given below using the opening words or phrases provided. Do not refer to the passage until you have finished the exercise:

1 The two main techniques which have been used for training elephants we may call respectively the tough and the gentle.

Two main techniques_____ (1.1)

2 We must probably take such extreme cases with a grain of salt.

Such extreme cases ______ (1.11)

3 When training several elephants at one time we usually place the new arrival between the stalls of two captives whose training is already well advanced.

When training several elephants … it is customary for ______(1.21)

4 The trainer controls these movements with the metal-pointed stick.

These movements ______ (1.31)

Special difficulties难点

A Study the following pairs of words and then write sentences of your own to bring out the difference.

1 train (1.1) ---- educate

You need to be very patient when you train dogs.

The best investment any country can make in its future is to educate its children.

2 apart from (1.3) ---- except

Apart from you/Except for you, everyone has helped in some way.

We're open every day apart from/except Saturday.

3 degree (1.9) ---- rank

I think that's true to a degree.

What rank was your father when he was in the army?

4 afterwards (1.32) ---- after

We had dinner first. Afterwards, we went to a show.

Come and see me after work.

B Use the following expressions in sentences of your own: must be taken with a grain of salt (1.11); a ticklish business (1.19)

Multiple choice questions多项选择题

Choose the correct answers to the following questions.


1 The ill-treatment of an elephant during training ____.

a.can have unpleasant consequences later

b.is the most effective method available

c.increases the time it takes to train the animal

d.ensures loyal service for years to come

2 An elephant will only be trained successfully if _____.

a.the mahout is a responsible person

b.elephant calves don't refuse to feed

c.the mahout and the elephant get on well together

d.several trainers are assigned to the job

3 The main attraction of training mature elephants is_____.

a.early financial returns

b.their willingness to obey their trainers

c.the avoidance of anxiety in the elephant

d.that elephants are difficult to keep

4 A mature elephant is only subjected to training when ______ .

a.it is with other elephants

b.the mahout has established a good relationship with it

c.the animal is feeding normally

d.it needs to be controlled with a sharp pointed stick


5 Moral considerations _____, this is a stupid method…(1.3)


b. except



6 Elephants enjoy ______ one master just as dogs do.(1.8)

a.in having



d.to have

7 Extreme cases ______must be taken with a grain of salt. (1.11)

a.like so

b.of this kind

c.such that

d.as this

8 Two assistants control the captive, while _____ others rub the the elephant. (11.25-26)


b.at the same time


d.during which


9 Elephants do not easily become_____ to man. (11.14-15)

a.a service




10 A captive elephant will probably _____ all food. (11.16-17)





11 Sometimes a tame elephant is ______ nearby…(1.17)





12 Its effects are _____ by the use of endearing epithets. (1.29)






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