The Elephant Whisperers review – touching story of a couples life with elephants

December 8, 2022 (Last updated: December 14, 2022)
Romey Norton 7
Film Reviews, Netflix, Streaming Service


This short documentary is an inspirational and emotional watch, which has made me want to run away and devote my life to looking after elephants.

We review the Netflix documentary film The Elephant Whisperers, which was released on December 8th, 2022.

Set in the beautiful and peaceful rural backdrops of a South Indian village, this India-set short documentary tells the heartwarming story of the first couple to successfully raise two baby elephants in the Theppakadu Elephant Camp. They devote their lives to loving and caring for the orphans, forging unique and inspiring bonds with the gentle giants, and becoming one loving family. 

The Theppakadu Elephant Camp is one of the oldest elephant camps in Asia and has been helping rehabilitate elephants for over 140 years. In the 41 minutes this Netflix documentary lasts, we get a small insight into these gentle, and sometimes cheeky, giants and are shown how they are raised to become independent and have a good life. We see the elephants being washed, fed, playing with balls, having cuddles, and roaming free across a vast amount of land. They have to wear bells so they can easily be found in the forest if they wander off too far and get lost. 

Bomman and Bellie are truly an inspiring couple, and their openness and devotion to helping the baby elephants Ragu and Ammu filled me with such hopeful emotion and made me think how the world needs more people like them in it. Bellie is the only woman assigned to work with baby elephants, and after losing her first husband and her daughter, you can see how she gives all her love to the elephants and raises them like her own children. Watching their relationship is beautiful; how these majestic animals form a bond with the couple, tagging along on their activities, is magical. Ragu is assigned a new caregiver throughout the documentary, and this is heartbreaking for the couple and the viewer; this is where I cried. I know I’m a softie when it comes to animals but this felt like a stab to the heart. 

The cinematography is beautiful, we see not just elephants but monkeys, bears, and birds in the forest, and animals and humans roaming free and living together. This coexistence is a peaceful, almost idyllic life, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have hardships. While elephants are kind and emotional creatures, they are also dangerous. Bomman was stabbed by a tusk accidentally and now can no longer work with the big elephants. Although the way he’s transforming the babies’ lives, I think he’s okay with this. 

Soft, classical music is used throughout, and this builds the poetic and peaceful nature of the documentary. There are subtitles available, as it’s not in English. For the short amount of time, it takes to watch, I felt I went on an emotional journey in this documentary. It packs a small punch and is definitely worth the watch, especially if you love elephants.

Baby Ragu and Ammu’s lives have only been made possible by the love and care given by Bomman and Bellie, and I hope they continue their inspiring work and teach future generations who will have the same successes in years to come. 

What did you think of the Netflix documentary film The Elephant Whisperers? Comment below.

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7 thoughts on “The Elephant Whisperers review – touching story of a couples life with elephants

  • December 12, 2022 at 3:38 am

    I loved and cried in this doco, what a wonderful couple. I wish they hadn’t taken Raghu away though, I cried so much.

  • December 13, 2022 at 2:30 am

    I sooo loved this and cried when they took Ragu!!! Why???? Where is he? I would love to go there and have and connect with them. I would never want to leave.

  • December 13, 2022 at 5:04 pm

    This was such a beautiful and inspirational story… heart sank however when Ragu was taken …..could there be further explanation as to why this was? And it seems he is not far away so that they can visit him?…..but is Ammu able to visit Ragu? Understanding the way of elephants, it seems there would be more consideration of these separations…..seemed a bit cruel and heartless. Please enlighten me. Thank you.

  • December 15, 2022 at 5:11 pm

    Raghu is safe and healthy and they meet every now and then. I meet all of them very often. Raghu reached adolescence and became white stubborn. When elephants live in such close proximity to humans. It can be quite dangerous. So he needed to be given to someone who was able to assert control. It was hard for Bomman and bellie to do that after mothering them to a great extent. Basically in human terms he got spoiled with love. It may seem cruel and heartless but it needs to be done or else there will be mishaps later which would be detrimental for his life.

  • December 17, 2022 at 2:22 am

    I don’t understand why Ragu was taken away from that loving couple and his other elephant friend. Elephants Never Forget, so returning him back to their care shouldn’t be an issue. I loved the documentary, but the Ranger taking Ragu away from deeply impacted my love of this documentary in a less favorable experience

  • January 1, 2023 at 1:16 am

    Disappointed in how Raghu was used for entertainment (chained, dressed up, washed with soap.) The film is misleading on how to properly care for a wild animal. Check out Sheldrick Wildlife Trust or Elephant Nature Park to see how it really should be done. The only upside is Raghu was saved. His fate is probably that of a Kerala elephant used for rituals which can include torture. I’m guessing since he’s been trained to bow and to be dressed up it’ll make that job easier.

  • January 29, 2023 at 1:29 am

    The cinematography was beautiful. Although I loved the imagery and the story of the two elephant whisperers, the film left me with too many questions. Like what is the care like for the other older elephants? What training do they go through so that people can actually ride on their backs? It makes for a great shot, but is it right?
    Also all elephants have chains- so then they were trained to not escape and fear it. I think the efforts specially by Bommen and Bellie are sincere and good hearted, but the film failed to fill the gaps on why some things are done, where funding comes from, and the future of these elephants. The film was moving and touching from a human perspective, but not sure I feel the same way for these elephants.

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