A baby elephant and retired service dog have become almost inseparable in a friendship that may have saved the elephant’s life.
Ellie the elephant was only a few weeks old when abandoned by his herd.
The Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage in South Africa cares for baby rhinoceroses as its name suggests, but the caretakers couldn’t turn their backs on the pint-sized pachyderm.
Even so, Ellie needed more than just food and medical care. Elephants, being herd animals, need companionship. With no other elephants around, he started losing weight and his health started failing.
That’s when Duma, a former service and sniffer dog, came to the rescue. The two quickly bonded, digging together in a huge sandpile.
“It immediately cheered the elephant up,” Karen Trendler, a rehabilitation expert at the orphanage told Earth Touch. “He suddenly started getting a little bit of interest in life again.”
Dogs and elephants display much different instincts and behavior, but sometimes they do create strong bonds, as seen in this video.
Thanks to Duma, Ellie has steadily improved and the team at the orphanage are already looking at conditioning him for a return to his herd, or to one at an elephant refuge one day.