#121 – The Tale of Theodore the Forgetful Circus Elephant

Once upon a time, under a red and white tent, a circus elephant named Theodore was training very hard for his next performance. The show was on in three hours and his trainer, Mr Max Guthrin, wanted to make sure that everything went perfectly. Although all of the circus animals, from the fleas to the lions, appreciated that Max wanted them to do well, they also knew that he would sometimes get angry if they made a mistake. Luckily, for most of the circus animals, it wasn’t very common that they made mistakes. Except for Theodore. Max had chosen an elephant for his circus show based on the fact that an elephant never forgets. Theodore, however, was not born with this special gift and, every night, just after being introduced as one of the main acts, Theodore would forget what he was meant to do. But, tonight, to everyone’s surprise, Theodore was going to give the performance of a lifetime.

Usually, as soon as his name was called out over the loudspeaker, Theodore would walk out into the ring and the people in the crowd would applaud and cheer, waiting for the beautiful, grey elephant to do something spectacular like roll over or stand on the small stool in the middle of the ring. Not being able to remember what he had learned during the day; all Theodore could do was stand there solemnly and look out at the waiting crowd. Mr Guthrin became so frustrated at Theodore’s lack of memory that, for a few nights, he even tried to sell it as part of his act. “Introducing Theodore, The Amazing Forgetful Elephant!” Mr Guthrin would yell into the microphone, but, as Theodore stood there, the crowds were not convinced, often booing and hissing instead of cheering and clapping.

Some of the other animals tried to help Theodore by giving him ways to remember his routines. Sometimes through rhymes and songs and sometimes by making cards with pictures on them for him to memorise at least the very first thing he was meant to do, but nothing seemed to help.

One evening, while speaking with the fleas about how incredible their performance was, they asked Theodore if he would let them help him remember some of the tricks he was supposed to do out on stage. Although he didn’t think it would do much good, he agreed and the fleas and Theodore spoke about their ideas. The fleas told the elephant they had figured out that he wasn’t able to remember his routines because he was trying so hard to remember something else. Theodore spoke of trying to remember what it was like before he joined the circus and that he never wanted to forget the freedom he had enjoyed before meeting Mr Guthrin. He explained he didn’t like the circus very much, so he didn’t feel like the routines were important enough to take up space in his memory but that remembering his way home was very important to him. Once the fleas knew this, they explained their plan to Theodore and they all went to bed that night very excited about putting their ideas into action.

The next night, as the lion had finished his act, Mr Guthrin nervously introduced Theodore to the stage. Theodore walked out, and, to Mr Guthrin’s surprise, took a bow towards the cheering audience. He continued to look on with amazement as Theodore performed trick after trick, performing the entire routine flawlessly from beginning to end. Once he had finished, Theodore took another bow and the crowd stood up to show their appreciation.

After the show, Mr Guthrin was so happy that he threw a small celebration for Theodore and fell asleep very early, forgetting to lock up the animals for the night. Theodore took the time to say thank you to the fleas for jumping up into his ear to whisper to him what to do each step of the way for the show. Then, as they agreed, Theodore said goodbye to his friends and took this opportunity to make his way out of the circus tent. Using his excellent memory, and his big, grey legs, Theodore began to make the slow journey back home.


My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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