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GALLERY

One Big Happy Family

July 10, 1994

This is a love story. There's Gary Johnson. There's his wife, Kari. And then there are the elephants.

Gary brought his first elephant at 16. Kari grew up with them; she was raised in a family of animal trainers. Now they are married and living in Perris, Calif., with 11 Asian elephants, two dogs and some cats on a ranch called Have Trunk Will Travel.

They are on big happy family, and like any family, they have their routines. After breakfast, there's a walk around the compound. Gary and Kari stroll side by side, hand in hand; the elephants follow, single file, tail in trunk.

The Johnsons like to share their special family. They believe that by showing people the gentleness of the endangered animals, and the humane way to care for them, they can save those pachyderms not in captivity.

So the Johnsons trot the elephants out for county and state fairs, magazine covers, commercials, movies, advertisements and other events.

Yes, this is a love story. And if the Johnsons have their way, the elephants will have a happily ever after.

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