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How do you wash an elephant?

Lawton firefighters take hoses to circus animals

Swinging their trunks composed of over 40,000 muscles, Asian elephants Becky, Lisa and Traci showered in the sunshine Wednesday afternoon at Elmer Thomas Park with the help of the Lawton Fire Department.

About 300 children and adults formed a big circle in the grass near Prairie Dog Lane and watched as firefighters sprayed water onto the elephants to prepare them for back-to-back showings of "Circus Saurus," presented by the Carson & Barnes Circus. Two final shows take place today at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. under the Big Top at the park.

Grandparents and parents pushed toddlers in strollers until they found the best view of the elephants, as taller siblings placed shorter siblings on their shoulders, giving them a clear view above the crowd.

Inside the circle of people stood three elephants and 11 firefighters from Fire Stations No. 1 and 3; the firefighters rolled out a redline hose, which is typically used to put out Dumpster fires, according to Lt. Chris Jones.

This time, however, Jones used the redline hose to wash the elephants. 

"It's not every day you get to give an elephant a shower," he said. "The kids loved it. I know that. It was exciting for them."

More children this year than in the past had the opportunity to see the elephants because the children were not at school due to the teacher walkout in Lawton and area schools. 

Among those children were 17 Lawton Public Schools students who arrived at the park as a single group from Carriage Hills Christian Church, 3211 E. Gore. 

Church sponsors Bruce and Brenda Joens, as well as Kaitlyn Slattery and Edith Allgood, tag-teamed to drive two vans full of the children, ranging from kindergartners to 10th-graders. 

Autumn Feliciano, 12, a sixth-grader at Tomlinson Middle School, shared her favorite part about elephants as she watched the firefighters spray them down. 

"I like that even though they're so big and move so slow, they're beautiful and delicate," Feliciano said.

Sixteen-year-old Drake Lyons, a sophomore at Gateway Success Center, was fascinated by the tame nature of the elephants.

"I think it's cool how they know how to cooperate with the humans," Lyons said.

Danica Russey, 6, a kindergartner at Bishop Elementary School, also noticed how kind the elephants were to the firefighters.

"I like about them that you can pet them," Russey said.

The other children focused on specific elephant body parts they liked the most. Jonothan Luera, 10, a fourth-grader at Eisenhower Elementary School, said he likes "their trunks because when they pick up water, they can shoot it out," while 13-year-old Daylan Luera, an eighth-grader at Eisenhower Middle School, said he likes their big builds and their ears.

Madison Sands, 9, a third-grader at Carriage Hills Elementary School, was most interested in watching the firefighters wash the elephants' "behinds," she said "I want to see how they do it," Sands said, smiling.

The Lawton Constitution

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