“Even as a child, my life revolved around elephants.
I didn’t want a slot racing set from my parents at Christmas,
but rather an annual ticket for the zoo.”
Florian Winter, Essen
head elephant keeper, Wuppertal Zoo
Maybe it was the physical closeness that inspired Filipe von Gilsa from an early age: he grew up in the Cologne suburb of Riehl, just a stone’s throw from the zoo. The elephants there were his favourite animals right from the start, and he visited them more often than any others. When he was twelve, he was allowed to help out in the elephant enclosure, and from then on he spent almost every spare moment with his tusked friends. Today, the 34 year-old father of three is the head elephant keeper at Wuppertal Zoo and is responsible for a total of nine African elephants. Surprisingly enough, four of these were born at the zoo. Filipe von Gilsa now says, he has seven children. Three of his own, who enjoy paying him regular visits at his workplace – and four little elephants.