Known for their large brains and impeccable memories, elephants are one of the smartest families in the animal kingdom.
In addition to their high IQs, elephant mothers are notorious for being incredibly empathetic. Resultingly, mothers of newborns are highly unlikely to abandon their young in the wild unless the baby has some sort of highly fatal condition or the environmental needs of the group cannot be met.
After being rejected from his herd for having a chronic illness, baby Ellie was left with incredibly thin odds of survival.
Luckily, Ellie was brought to the Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage in Zululand, South Africa.
The sanctuary has experience caring for a variety of animals including leopards, giraffes, hippos, and elephants, to name a few.
As the name would suggest, this wildlife sanctuary predominately caters to baby rhinoceroses in need of rehabilitation, but luckily for Ellie, this sanctuary was able to give him undivided care and attention.
Although he wasn’t a rhino saved from poaching, Ellie had world-class care amongst his rhino counterparts.
The wildlife orphanage strives to meet the needs of all animals that pass through its doors. Even though they focus on orphaned rhinos, the sanctuary would never turn away an animal in need. Their goal is to help as many animals as possible.
Upon arrival at the orphanage, staff members quickly realized that Ellie had suffered from an umbilical hernia.
Unfortunately, the compromised area had already become infected and spread throughout his bloodstream. To make matters worse, the young elephant developed a milk allergy. The orphanage tried to ship in several milk products from varying countries, but nothing would work for poor Ellie.
But they didn’t give up! The staff began to concoct a milk-like drink for the baby elephant!
Using well-cooked rice with added proteins and minerals, Ellie slowly began getting his necessary nutrients back in. Slowly but surely the young elephant recovered some of his strength and energy.
After several failed attempts to unite Ellie with his herd, the orphanage became his permanent home.
Elephants are highly social animals that thrive in a group setting. Baby Ellie began to face psychological problems without constant interaction from his fellow elephants. Elephants are one species that are unlikely to survive without the necessary interactions with others of their kind.
Although they could provide medical attention, the sanctuary’s staff was unsure how to help poor Ellie with his social needs.
Although he lacked the support of an elephant herd, Ellie made an unlikely companion at the sanctuary.
They are just about the cutest animal duo we’ve ever seen.
Ellie befriended one of the orphanage’s newest additions, Duma, a retired service dog.
Since Duma’s arrival at the sanctuary, the two became immediate pals. They can often be found playing at their favorite spot – the sand pile. In addition to simply enjoying the other’s company, the duo likes running and playing fetch together.
Almost instantly, Ellie’s spirits were rekindled. He was cheerful again. Although it’s not the elephant herd he needed, the staff hopes that the new friendship will be enough to keep Ellie in high spirits.
To view the full story of Ellie and Duma, be sure to click on the video player below!
You’re sure to be smiling in no time!
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