It is omnipresent in children’s movies and in cartoons that animals are talking to each other, striking up highly unlikely friendships and rivalries, which would not be possible in real life. They even interact with humans, which is quite thrilling to watch.
The amazing story
But friendships can sometimes sprout up in the unlikeliest of places. Here is an example of one such friendship that proves that anyone indeed can get along with everyone. The story of Ellie the elephant is sure to warm anyone’s heart!
Ubuntu “Ellie”, the elephant
Ubuntu, an adorable baby elephant was rejected by his herd. Ubuntu, whom rescue staff later nicknamed “Ellie” was a touching case for when elephants are rejected by their own herds. The effect of such spurning can have both psychological and physical effects.
How he was found
When Ubuntu was discovered by the staff at the Fundimvela Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage (FTTRO), they tried to help him reunite with his family several times. But ultimately, they had no luck. They also came to the realization that Ellie was extremely sick during this time.
A distressing situation
“We realized he actually had a huge umbilical hernia and abscess, which means the entire umbilical, or belly button, the area was open and was very infected”, Karen Trendler, a rehabilitation and crisis response expert at FTTRO, explained.
The fatal abscess
“And,” she continued, “That’s a direct connection to the blood supply. In 99% of cases, an umbilical abscess of that nature is fatal.” This is normally a huge threat to the life of the mother elephant and can cause serious damages to the way the baby elephant functions.
Not going to give up
However, the staff at FTTRO weren’t ready to give up on little Ellie no matter what. They even went out of their way so far, they concocted for him his very own homemade formula when he displayed an allergy to every other kind of formula they had access to.
The effect of the abandonment
Ellie’s wounds weren’t just on the surface though. He suffered as much of a psychological shock from his illness and being rejected from his herd, as his physical injuries. We as humans are social beings, and being rejected by our own society is unbearable for us. So for an elephant that travels in a herd, it must be extremely difficult.
The importance of acceptance
Wildlife trusts explain to the Daily Mail, “To be rejected at birth causes an elephant extreme psychological distress. Elephants find it extremely important to be part of a family group and require intimacy, company, and comfort to be stable.”
Manifestation of the trauma
They go on to explain that these types of traumatic experiences can even have physical signs in rejected elephant calves. It can manifest itself in a physical form, one such example being diarrhea, which can be deadly to a fragile newborn calf.
The sad state of Ellie
Karen Trendler elaborates, adding, “The calf elephant was here. He was particularly weak, particularly ill; he wasn’t so much interested in doing anything. He was very lethargic, very disinterested.” This comes as no surprise because of all the emotional and physical stress he had to go through.
Introduction of Duma
However that all changed when the staff at FTTRO introduced Ellie to an unlikely pal— a retired service dog named Duma! They were equally intrigued and fascinated by their differences yet always remembered to remain cordial. They soon became friendly with one another.
The unexpected interaction
Karen Trendler says, “We introduced Duma and the elephant at the sand pile and it immediately cleared the elephant up, and the two of them then became the interaction.” It was an incredible sight to see as the bond was so unexpected on both sides.
“It also had a massive impact on the elephant in that he suddenly started getting a little bit of interest in life again!”, Karen went on. For the people had witnessed the struggle of this elephant, seeing him become more active was absolutely amazing. It was a heart-warming development, to say the least.
The inseparable pair
The unlikely pair grew incredibly fond of each other. In fact, the staff actually had a hard time separating the two because they had become so attached to each other. It was an unbelievable sight to even imagine, to see a dog and an elephant be so inseparable.
A sad turn of events
But in an incredibly sad turn of events, just as things were looking up for Ellie, her health rapidly declined. No matter how hard he tried, Duma’s love and friendship simply were not enough to weather the little elephant through the storm.
After a 5-month long battle for his health, the little elephant’s condition only kept worsened at an alarming rate, and the baby began showing signs of septic shock. It was hard to witness such development when it was gaining back it’s will to live and had a friend to make memories with.
The heartbreaking post
And soon after, Karen Trendler, on behalf of the Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage, shared a heartbreaking post on the official Facebook page. It was truly a tragic day for the staffers at FTTRO. Karen announced the untimely passing of their beloved Ellie.
Ellie had passed away
The post read: “It is with deep sadness and so many tears that we bring the devastating news that Ellie has passed away gently, shortly before midnight on Tuesday evening after a very rapid deterioration- he had had enough and gave up the fight after a brave and tough 5 1/2 month battle against all…”
He was finally at peace
The message continued, “Ellie has been returned to the wild. Buried in a special place at Thula where his spirit can roam with the herd.” It was harrowing to see her go, but her short time spent on earth was majorly cruel, so it was almost a sigh of relief to see her no longer suffering and in a better place.
Although Ellie’s time on earth wasn’t the longest, he was lucky to have been found by and cared for by the FTTRO and to have the friendship of Duma. Both kept him happy here during his limited time and loved for much longer than he would have been otherwise.