Daphne Sheldrick Has Dedicated Her Life To Elephants The Elephant’s Unexpected Reaction Makes Her Heartbroken

Daphne Sheldrick Has Dedicated Her Life To Elephants The Elephant’s Unexpected Reaction Makes Her Heartbroken

Daphne Sheldrick learned in the most poignant way that elephants must not be allowed to become too attached to one keeper. Many years ago at her animal sanctuary in Kenya, she hand-reared a baby elephant who had arrived at only days old, barely leaving her side for six months.

Then she left for a week to attend to arrangements for her daughter’s wedding and returned to find the elephant had missed her so much she had di.ed of a broken heart.

‘I made the mistake of thinking another human could take my place,’ says Daphne. ‘But elephants get favorites among the human family who have replaced their elephant one. Now, to avoid them getting too attached to any individual, all the keepers sleep on rotation alongside every elephant in the nursery.’

There is, she says, a huge emotional aspect to raising an elephant. ‘They are animals with almost human sensibilities,’ she says. ‘In the wild, all the females in the family care for the babies, so they are never alone. So you have to replicate that in captivity – by having someone with them all the time ”

Daphne, 77, is qualified to make this observation since she has dedicated her life to preserving the population of this noble creature and, in the last 25 years, has reared more than 130 orphaned elephants and reintroduced them to the wild. Daphne has also won the nickname ‘Mother Elephant’.

WHY ARE ELEPHANTS EMPATHIC:  It is recorded that elephants are one of the world’s most empathetic animals. To have empathy means to have the ability to sense others’ emotions and understand what they are feeling. Researchers have discovered that elephants are able to ʀᴇᴄᴏɢɴɪᴢᴇ and respond to other elephants’ pain and problems.


Physical touch: When humans get scared or ᴅɪsᴛʀᴇssᴇᴅ, we tend to comfort each other with touch or a hug. Elephant behavior is no different. Although elephants are some of the largest mammals, they still get scared or ᴅɪsᴛʀᴇssᴇᴅ.  When these animals become ᴅɪsᴛʀᴇssᴇᴅ, their ears go out and they emit a low-frequency sound. Members of their herd will hear this cry and go to comfort them by stroking their trunks on another’s mouth. Researchers discovered this after studying 26 Asian elephants at the Elephant Nature Park in the Mae Tang district of Chiang Mai Province, Thailand.

Forming bonds: In the wild, elephants live in herds. These herds are family units that consist of the matriarch elephants, her daughters and offspring. When the calves (baby elephants) reach a certain age, they go into two different paths. The elephant cows (females) stay with their mother’s herd and take care of the young. On the other hand, elephant bulls (males) go off on their own or connect with a small group of male elephants. There have been times when elephants leave their mother’s herds to create their own herds. Although they still stay connected and form a bond group. This group is the second tier of relationship in the elephant society. When these elephants see each other in the wild, they will socialize with each other. Aside from their families, there have been reports that elephants make friends.

Making sounds: Another way that elephants show affection towards each other is through vocalizations. Elephants are able to share their emotions with other elephants through various different sounds they can produce. These large mammals make trumpeting, rumbling, roaring, chirps and squeaking sounds.  Mother elephants show affection and care for their calves through soft and soothing rumbles. The low rumble sounds are used to greet and bond with one another. Elephants produce trumpet sounds to express their happiness, anger and even grief of a loved one dying.

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