The makers of the gin described its flavor as "lovely, wooded, almost spicy, earthy" and one that changes subtly with the seasons and location.
Special South African gin is infused with elephant dung
MOSSEL BAY, South Africa (AP) — The makers of a South African gin infused with elephant dung swear their use of the animal's excrement is no gimmick.
The creators of Indlovu Gin, Les and Paula Ansley, stumbled across the idea a year ago after learning that elephants eat a variety of fruits and flowers and yet digest less than a third of it.
"As a consequence, in the elephant dung, you get the most amazing variety of these botanicals," Les Ansley said during a recent visit to their operations. "Why don't we let the elephants do the hard work of collecting all these botanicals and we will make gin from it?" he recalled his wife suggesting.
Her idea came after a safari during which a wildlife ranger described an elephant's digestive process.
Weeks later, he said his wife woke him up in the middle of the night with the inspiration. "OK," I said sleepily. "Let's give this a bash. Let's see how it works out."
The first batch of elephant dung came by mail from the park where they had taken their safari. Then the couple, both scientists, puzzled for a while before working out the gin-making process.
Now they collect the dung themselves, using their bare hands.
They described the gin's flavor as "lovely, wooded, almost spicy, earthy" and one that changes subtly with the seasons and location.
The gin bottles are marked with the date and coordinates of where the elephant dung was collected. "So, you're able to compare almost different vintages of the gin," Ansley said.
After about five sizeable bags of dung are collected for a batch of 3,000 to 4,000 bottles of the gin, the droppings are dried and crumbled, then washed to remove dirt and sand. Eventually only the remains of the fruits, flowers, leaves and bark eaten by the elephants are left behind.
Those botanicals are then sterilized and dried again and placed in an airing cupboard. Think of it like a "spice cupboard," Ansley said. Eventually, the remains are infused in the gin.
The couple are not above testing the gin on friends before explaining its provenance. Even with an explanation in advance, they get raised eyebrows.
"The initial reaction of most people is, 'What? There's no way.' But most people are very keen to actually taste it," Ansley said. And once people hear about elephants' digestive process "it becomes a lot clearer to them, and they accept it very well."
They decided to name the gin Indlovu, which means elephant in the Zulu language. The couple did not say how much of the gin they have sold. A bottle sells for around 500 rand, or about $32.
The gin is often a hit with tourists seeking a unique souvenir and a story to tell when they return home, the couple said. With that in mind, the gin is sold in game lodges and duty-free shops in addition to regular online sales.
"I even touched the elephant dung, and being close to the animals are very majestic," said one South African visitor, Elsabe Hannekom. "So having a piece of them actually feels quite good. An export of the African experience, I would say."
After a sip, another guest, Jade Badenhorst, weighed in: "Interesting. Very tasty. Very nice. I didn't expect to be able to drink a gin smoothly."
—By NQOBILE NTSHANGASE, Associated Press
Cows cast away by Dorian found alive on N Carolina island
CAPE LOOKOUT, N.C. (AP) — A trio of castaway cows has been discovered on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where they apparently washed up after swimming for miles to escape Hurricane Dorian ’s storm surge.
Cape Lookout National Seashore officials think the stranded cows swam up to 5 miles (8 kilometers) during the September storm before being found near Cape Lookout this month. The cows belong to a herd that roams freely on Cedar Island, across the sound. When Dorian generated an 8-foot (2-meter) “mini tsunami,” it washed them and dozens of other animals away, including 28 wild horses that died.
Seashore spokesman B.G. Horvat told McClatchy news group the cows are grazing peacefully after a harrowing feat of survival, but they need to go home. He thinks they’ll have to be sedated for the boat trip.
Rescue: ‘Unicorn’ puppy doesn’t notice ‘tail’ growth on head
JACKSON, Mo. (AP) — A rescued puppy is attracting a lot of attention because of his resemblance to a unicorn.
The nearly 10-week-old puppy, named Narwhal, has a tail-like appendage growing from his forehead.
Narwhal was rescued over the weekend and sent to Mac’s Mission in Jackson, which specializes in fostering animals with special needs.
Mac’s Mission founder Rochelle Steffen says Narwhal doesn’t notice the extra tail and is otherwise a happy, healthy puppy. Although it looks like a tail, Narwhal cannot wag it.
Steffen says the rescue group has been flooded with requests from people wanting to adopt Narwhal since his picture hit social media. But he’ll remain at Mac’s Mission so his caretakers can be sure the tail doesn’t grow out of proportion to his face and cause him problems.
Always doe prices? Deer wanders into Walmart, slips around
WOOSTER, Ohio (AP) — A whitetail went retail for a bit this week when it entered a Walmart store in Ohio.
Patrons in Wooster in northeastern Ohio say the deer was kicking shelves as it walked through the store Wednesday afternoon.
Bert and Dawn Moore encountered the deer after stopping in for a few things for dinner. Bert Moore told the Wooster Daily Record he feared the doe was in danger of hurting itself or others.
Moore says he grabbed the deer when it grew tired after slipping on the floor and then lay on it to keep it still.
He, another shopper and store employees helped the animal get out. It disappeared into a field.
Hawaii man proposes to girlfriend while surfing
HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii man was surfing with his girlfriend when — instead of hanging 10 — he knelt down on one knee on his board and proposed.
Hawaii News Now reported that Lauren Oiye said yes just before Chris Garth dropped the ring in the ocean.
Multiple photographers nearby captured the Sunday moment.
Luckily, he had a spare.
Garth said he knew it could go wrong, so he used a stand-in while they were out in the water. The real ring was on shore at Queen’s Beach in Waikiki, where the two met years before.
Details about the rings were not released.