Tai the Elephant Plays Rosie, Star of ‘Water for Elephants’

Everyone on the Water for Elephants set can agree on one thing: Tai, the Elephant-actress that plays Rosie, is nothing short of amazing. Over the past few weeks, various cast on the set and even the director has sang the praises of Tai.

Tai’s owner, Kari, shared these details and photos with us so that we in turn my share with you, our readers.


Tai is cast in the role of Rosie in the film, Water for Elephantst. She is a 42 year old female Asian elephant. At 8’ 8” feet tall and close to 9,000 pounds Tai really is the biggest star in Hollywood. Her co-stars are never jealous of her looks and talent because of her winning personality and sweet disposition. Who says an over 40, female, plus-size actor with wrinkles and little gray can’t get work?

Tai with her BFF Dixie

Bananas, apples, carrots and palm fronds are some of Tai’s favorite foods. Her main diet consists of 150 pounds or so of oat hay with some grass hay mixed in for variety. She enjoys grazing on fresh grass and munching on tree leaves and small limbs. Tai drinks up to 50 gallons of water a day to wash it all down.

Home is Have Trunk Will Travel Ranch in Perris, California where Tai lives with five other elephants and her human family. When she is home she gets baths, exercise, training and relaxing time along with the other elephants. When Tai is on set she gets the same care, along with a lot of human attention from the cast and crew.

Tai travels in a state-of-the-art 48’ long specially built trailer. It has everything she needs to keep her cool and comfortable. The trailer is a good place for her to relax and snack during breaks from filming. She also enjoys stretching her legs and exploring the location.

Tai's Custom Limo

Gary Johnson is Tai’s head trainer. Gary is founder and owner of Have Trunk Will Travel, Inc. along with his wife, Kari. Gary started working with elephants at age 16 and has been living his dream ever since. Tai has been with Gary for 34 years. Joanne Smith is Tai’s assistant trainer. Joanne has loved elephants since she was a toddler. She is a graduate of the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program at Moorpark College. She has been handling and caring for elephants for 21 years, 15 of those years at Have Trunk Will Travel, Inc.

Tai Preps for Set - Mani/Pedi!

The American Humane Association (AHA) (www.americanhumane.org) monitors animal action in film and television. Anytime Tai is on the film set an AHA representative is present to help ensure her safety and welfare. AHA also observes during pre-training, rest and play time. The director, producers and the entire cast and crew are respectful of Tai’s needs and comfort and a pleasure to work with.

Elephants are the heart and soul of Have Trunk Will Travel and we are honored to live and work with them and to be able to share their talents. Tai is an ambassador for her species, the endangered Asian elephant. We are very proud of the home we have built for our elephants and of the lives they touch through film and public appearances.

The International Elephant Foundation (IEF) (www.elephantconservation.org) is the elephant charity that Tai supports. Gary is a founding board member and Have Trunk Will Travel, Inc. donates to IEF to help elephants worldwide.

You can help elephants and learn more about them by visiting:
The International Elephant Foundation www.elephantconservation.org
The Elephant Managers Association www.elephant-managers.com

To learn more about Tai’s home, visit www.HaveTrunkWillTravel.com.

Headed for the Barn

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23 Responses to Tai the Elephant Plays Rosie, Star of ‘Water for Elephants’

  1. Lisa says:

    Oh, Tai is just gorgeous and she’s going to be superstar after WFE comes out. I’m glad we got to know her a bit earlier than the rest of the world. :)

  2. MAIARA says:

    LOL that’s so cute!!! i never thought i would think an Elephant cute o.o but she is, look those pics *–*

  3. Lisa says:

    Aaawww pretty girl! Actually, I feel like I need a pedicure – thanks Rosie!

  4. deb24601 says:

    I love learning more about Tai! Such beautiful pictures too. #TeamRosie :)

  5. catmorningstar says:

    So cutee *-*

    Love this book, I think I love this film

  6. SnowyHedwig says:

    What an awesome post, thanks so much for sharing!

  7. tinkrbe1l3 says:

    Awwww…she makes me smile :)

  8. Marystat says:

    How adorable is this..Loved this! And the pic of Tai/Rosie with her BFF just made me all fuzzy warm inside…cutness overload :-).

  9. jan says:

    What an awesome star Tai is!!!

    Thanks for sharing!!! :D

  10. heidiForReal says:

    Awww, that BFF pic had me all teary eyed here. Elephants are such amazing creatures!

  11. evelyn says:

    Aww she’s so cute, i love her!

  12. Gary says:

    Can’t wait to see Tai starring in Water for Elephants!

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  14. Sally Perkins says:

    My sister and I met Tai back in 1975 when we took wild animal classes and did volunteer work at Enchanted Village in southern California. I’m so glad she has a good home. I’ve thought about her over the years. She hasn’t lost that adorable face. I can’t wait to see “Water for Elephants.”

  15. Meredith says:

    Recently saw “Water For Elephants”…Tai was amazing! She is such a beautiful animal. I literally had to turn my head during the scenes Tai was hurt. Couldn’t bare to watch once I knew what was happening. Other than that, the movie was great. Well done Tai!!

  16. MD says:

    I saw the expose from Defenders of Wildlife. Tai is an abused elephant and whether or not she was or wasn’t on your set, she is abused! You contributed to it by having her in your film. I have passed on the video to many foundations and people I know and no one will see this movie nor support any film made by your company! Disgraceful

  17. Corinne says:

    After reading Water for Elephants; I am in love with Elephants and seeing Tai; What a beauty; Now I want a pet Elephant; HA HA

  18. J says:

    We love Tai’s performance in WFE. She is so sweet and cute!

  19. Patrick Lakin says:

    I loved the book as an encapsulation of America in the early thirties and was concerned about how well it would translate to film. I have just watched the DVD and was most happily impressed with the screenplay, direction, photography and performances. I cried again as I did with the book.

    And with apologies to any of the actors who may disagree I think Tai deserved top billing as she was the most impressive of all the thespians in WFE. Congratulations to her trainers and care givers.

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