It’s hard for even trained experts to figure out what to do if an animal is not eating. They could force feed it if it’s something small like a cat or a dog or something similar. That’s not going to happen if it’s something large that can run right over you if they are displeased… like an elephant. That was the situation a reserve in South Africa was facing. They had an orphaned elephant named Themba wandering around a herd that wasn’t allowing him to drink milk.
The staff at the Shamwari Game Reserve thought it best to traquilize Themba and bring him to them so that they could try to give him some milk. They did, we see the other elephants scattering and a group of them lugging him on a tarp of some sort. Once he got there, he was drinking water but he wasn’t drinking the milk which had the nutrients that he needed. Everyone was stymied… then they tried something. They brought a sheep from a neighboring reserve. His name was Albert and they hoped the two became friends.
At first Themba did NOT take kindly to Albert entering his pen. He chased that poor sheep around for quite a while. But then he calmed down and the two became inseparable friends. Themba, who was not taking milk before, started accepting it and he started getting healthier. The two of them play together all the time and they even rest together in an enclosure. It looks like the staff at Shamwari made the right decision at the time.
What is it about the pairing that made Themba want to get healthy again? I guess he felt like he had something to live for with Albert. Having a friend who wanted to spend time with him and play with him made him feel like he was part of some herd, even though it wasn’t an elephant. There is a sad ending though – he developed colic right before he was going to be put back into the wild and passed away after falling into a coma.
Aside from the sad ending, it was a great video. Have you seen any elephants interact well with other non-elephants? We’d love to hear any stories from your end. Please leave them in the comments below.
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