The beauty of the animal kingdom can take our breath away but there is a cruel side to it that many of us find hard to understand.
In the case of elephants, we have seen so many examples where mom elephants risk their lives to protect their young.
Elephants have the highest gestation period growing in their mother’s womb for 22 months before they are ready to see the world; elephants are also born blind so the bond between mother and child is not only fiercely strong but necessary for the baby’s survival.
When Zhuang Zhuang was born at Shendiashan Wild Animal Natural Reserve in China his mom tried to kill him so staff were forced to separate them.
Despite the danger he faced staying with her, the separation caused him immense grief – the baby elephant cried for five hours.
When the baby elephant was born in 2013, his mom rejected him immediately after delivery.
Staff at the reserve thought it was an accident so removed the baby to treat him for his injuries. When they returned Zhuang Zhuang his mom tried to kill him again, forcing staff to permanently remove him from his mom.
Despite hours of comfort from staff baby Zhuang Zhuang was completely heartbroken.
“The calf was very upset and he was crying for five hours before he could be consoled. He couldn’t bear to be parted from his mother and it was his mother who was trying to kill him,” an employee said, according to Shared.com.
Elephants stay in a close-knit herd where they all work together to protect their young and each other. It’s crucial that they are part of a family group as they need intimacy and company.
The babies are always cared for by the females of the group and not just the mother but other female elephants will help. It seems this is how young females learn how to look after baby elephants.
According to Ian Redmond, wildlife consultant with the Born Free Foundation and elephant expert, giving birth can be a frightening experience for some elephants as they “don’t work on instinct.”
“In captive elephants it is common for them not to know about looking after their young,” he told BBC News.
Thankfully Zhuang Zhuang survived his distressing ordeal and was adopted by the keeper who saved his life.
What a distressing ordeal for this poor baby elephant. I’m so glad this story ended well for Zhuang Zhuang.
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