In South Africa’s Thula Thula game reserve, a baby African elephant named Ellie was brought into the world with a difficult start. The calf had been left behind by his herd and was inᴘᴏᴏʀ ᴄᴏɴᴅɪᴛɪᴏɴ, sᴜꜰꜰᴇʀɪɴɢ from an umbilical hernia that could be a ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ sentence for elephants. Despite being at a ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇ reserve with other ᴡɪʟᴅ animals, Ellie’s condition was taking a toll on his ᴍᴇɴᴛᴀʟ ʜᴇᴀʟᴛʜ.
Elephants are highly social creatures, and the bond with fellow herd members is vital to a young calf’s well-being. With no herd to be around, Ellie was struggling with loneliness and ᴅᴇᴘʀᴇssɪᴏɴ.
The handlers at the Thula Thula reserve went the extra mile to help Ellie, feeding him a mixture of boiled rice, minerals, and coconut milk to get him to eat. However, they knew that more was needed to help the calf’s ᴍᴇɴᴛᴀʟ ʜᴇᴀʟᴛʜ.
That’s when Ellie was introduced to an unlikely friend – a German Shepherd named Duma. Dogs are known for being great companions, and Duma was no exception.
Duma showed Ellie what it was like to have a friend, and the two formed a bond that likely meant the world to Ellie.
With Duma by his side, Ellie showed significant improvement in his ᴍᴇɴᴛᴀʟ ʜᴇᴀʟᴛʜ and became more lively and confident.
The plan was for Ellie to grow up and be reintroduced to the ᴡɪʟᴅ to start his own herd, but unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned.
After five months, Ellie relapsed and despite the attention and care from Duma and the sanctuary, it proved not enough to sᴀᴠᴇ the calf’s ʟɪꜰᴇ. Ellie passed away at less than a year old, leaving those around him ʜᴇᴀʀᴛʙʀᴏᴋᴇɴ.
Despite ᴛʜᴇ sᴀᴅ ending, Ellie’s story of loneliness, growth, friendship, and ʟɪꜰᴇ resonates with many people.
The tale shows the remarkable intelligence and sᴏᴄɪᴀʟ ɴᴀᴛᴜʀᴇ of elephants and the power of friendship and companionship, even across species.