After a baby elephant was rejected by his herd and when several attempts to get him accepted were unsuccessful, he ended up at the Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage in South Africa. It specializes in helping baby rhinos whose parents were killed by poachers but was able to find a place for the little elephant named Ubuntu (but more commonly known as “Ellie”).
The baby elephant had serious health problems. As Karen Trendler, rehabilitation and crisis response expert, explained: “It was when we got him here to the orphanage that we realized he had a huge umbilical hernia and abscess, which means the entire umbilical or belly button area was open and infected, and that’s a direct connection into the blood supply. In about 99% of cases, an umbilical abscess of that nature is fatal. It’s been incredibly hard; tough, intensive nursing, 24 hour around-the-clock nursing And against all odds, this little elephant is still with us.” Ellie also developed an allergy to milk and milk-based products so they had to create a special substitute, rich in vitamins an minerals.
Hand-raising an elephant isn’t easy. They’re highly social creatures and by their very nature need to be a member of a herd. Being all alone is not good psychologically. Ellie ended up with a very unlikely substitute for a fellow elephant: a retired sniffer dog named Duma! As Trendler described their meeting: “What was a really interesting thing was the elephant calf was here, he was particularly weak, particularly ill. He wasn’t showing much interest in doing anything. He was very lethargic, very disinterested. And we introduced Duma and the elephant at the sand pile and it immediately cheered the elephant up. And the two of them, that then became the interaction. It had a massive impact on the elephant in that he suddenly started getting a little bit of interest in life again.”
We’ve posted a video of this unlikely animal friendship below. How amazing is the power of a dog’s love? Let us know in the Facebook comments and be sure to like and share!