This is a reading comprehension exercise for children. It is written by Susan Fineman, a reading specialist in the New Haven, Conn., school district.

Henry is back.

After months of being refurbished behind screens, the giant elephant that greets millions of visitors to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History is back on public display.

Henry, as he is unofficially known, is the world's largest mounted creature, 13 feet 2 inches tall at the shoulder. He has been moved only a few feet within the museum's rotunda, yet he seems to have been transported thousands of miles, standing now in a display of the plants and animals of his native Africa.

Henry is mounted about 2.5 feet higher than before, raising the eye of the viewer to appreciate "the most wonderful beaux-arts space in Washington," as Museum Director Robert W. Fri said in describing the building's central atrium.

Careful viewers may even notice, on a distant third-floor railing, a vulture staring down on the scene below.

Walking around Henry's new digs, called a diorama, the visitor can study the grasses of the Angolan savanna where the elephant once lived, and the birds and animals that shared the space with him.

All the work on the display was done at the Smithsonian, Fri said.

Native African birds dot the display, fine examples of the taxidermist's art. Included are a lilac-breasted roller, carmine bee eater and egrets.

In one corner, a jackal is crawling into his burrow. Moving around that corner the viewer can look into a small hole and see the mother jackal and her pups in their den, awaiting the male's arrival with food.

Dung beetles are shown as if eagerly collecting that material and rolling it into balls for use. Museum staff members who modeled the elephant dung for display studied the real stuff at the National Zoo.

Other insects shown in the diorama include scarabs, robber flies and grass flies. There also are models of a lizard and puff adder.

When he arrived in 1959, the elephant was placed on a round platform facing the entrance used by about 80 percent of the museum's 6 million annual visitors. Now he is turned slightly and moved a few feet off center, his left tusk facing the main door.

How do you move a giant elephant? "Very carefully," Fri responded, laughing. "It was one of the most stressful nights our head of exhibit construction has ever had."

Henry was hoisted by two forklifts, the old platform removed. Then he was set down and skidded to his new post, where he again was lifted and the new platform built.

The off-center placement makes it easier for visitors to scan the atrium's new signs directing them to various other museum exhibits, Fri said.


1. refurbished a. workers; assistants

2. taxidermist b. scene showing figures in a natural setting

3. rotunda c. doglike mammal of Africa and Asia

4. savanna d. carried

5. transported e. large bird with a featherless head

6. staffers f. long, pointed tooth

7. vulture g. flat plain with few trees

8. diorama h. a large round hall

9. tusk i. person skilled in the art of stuffing

and mounting the skins of dead animals

10. jackal j. freshened up; restored

Answer key: 1. j, 2. i, 3. h. 4. g, 5. d, 6. a, 7. e, 8. b, 9. f, 10. c