Kristin Davis's Rescued Elephant Is a 'Champ'

03/21/2011 at 05:00 PM EDT

Kristin Davis's Rescued Elephant Is a 'Champ'
Courtesy of Kristin Davis
Kristin Davis has an elephant memory.

She was walking on a big rock one day when, out of nowhere, it seemed, an elephant snuck up on her.

"Literally, her head was right next to me," the actress told at the Human Society of the United States' 25th Genesis Awards on Saturday. "In the picture of me, I'm going 'Ahh!' I don't know how they do it."

Davis is the newest recipient of the Humane Society's prestigious Wyler Award, which she received because of her work with African elephant rescue. She has a rescued elephant of her own, an abandoned female that she helped save from the lava slopes of Kenya's Chyulu Hill.

Chaimu, whose name means lava flow and is pronounced chay-moo, has now "moved to the big girls camp," Davis said. "It's a beautiful, beautiful place in the Tsavo National Park in Kenya."

Since being rescued and adopted by Davis, Chaimu has blossomed. "She's just a champ," Davis said. "She's very spirited, our Chaimu. She rushes at the wart hogs. She's got a lot of personality."

Chaimu has Davis's attention, of course, but the actress makes time for many other elephants, too. The experience that she has with the gentle giants is very special to her.

"Being with the elephants is hard to even describe," she said. "You can't really imagine. They communicate through these deep tones that we can't hear, but we feel the vibrations. And they're just so entertaining, we never wanted to leave them."

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