We would like nothing more than to offer this little elephant a hug and a tissue. The newborn calf reportedly cried for five hours, inconsolably, after being separated for a second time from his mother, who tried to kill him, twice.
Keepers at a wildlife park in eastern China, the Shendiaoshan Wild Animal Nature Reserve, in Rongcheng, Shandong province, removed the calf from his mother after she rejected him, stomping on him. Hopeful that the injury had been accidental, they treated the calf and returned him to his mother’s side. She turned on him again, so they again removed him. The calf wept under a blanket for five straight hours before keepers were able to console him.
"He couldn’t bear to be parted from his mother and it was his mother who was trying to kill him," a keeper said, according to reports. All was not lost for the little calf, however. Named Zhuangzhuang, he has been adopted by the keeper who rescued him and they have formed a strong bond. [Source] [x]
I didn’t know elephants could cry.
Elephants probably exhibit the highest level of emotional intelligence of any species on the planet…aside from humans (maybe, give yourselves a pat on the back if ya wanna but sometimes I question this.)
Apes and Dolphins may be valedictorian and saludictorian of Animal World High, but Elephants are high honors students themselves! Elephants excel at problem solving. They’re on equal footing with chimpanzees as far as cooperative skills go, they can create tools in captivity and in the wild, are thought to perhaps have some form of language with different dialects, they can mimic sounds, they can perform some arithmetic, they’re proven to be self-aware (a rarity in the animal kingdom), AND it’s believed that they can understand the semantics and syntax of some of the words they hear! And Dolphins are sociopaths and are the only species besides humans that murder for the pure FUN of it. And Apes will practice cannibalism. Elephants, on the other hand…
-They not only mourn their dead, but they will even bury their dead and visit their remains. Elephants are the only other species on the planet aside from humans known to exhibit a complex death ritual. Elephants have been known not only to mourn and cry when a member of their herd, a matriarch or a loved one dies (like the crying baby in the article above), but will then bury the deceased’s body with twigs and leaves and stay with the remains for days - leaving only to find food and water. And will return just as humans return to the burial grounds of their loved ones. There was also a case in the 40’s, where a bull elephant was shot for it’s meat, the elephant’s loved ones found it’s shoulder blade and one of it’s leg bones and returned it to the site where the elephant was killed.
- Elephants will even practice these death rituals for humans - covering dead (or sometimes just sleeping) humans with twigs and leaves. Elephants will also go out of their way to avoid hurting or killing a human. It has been stated that elephants are almost predisposed to cooperate and work with humans as long as they are treated with respect and sensitivity. Perhaps Elephants project themselves onto us the way we project ourselves onto animals. There are a lot of reported cases of elephants in the wild being fascinated by humans, going so far as to introduce them to their calves or protect an injured human. But of course, poaching and hunting has changed things and some elephants/herds are more cautious/hostile towards humans now a days.Beyond humans though, they also extend their empathy to other animals.
Why this mother elephant abandoned her baby, I can’t say. It’s rather unusual for elephants to reject their calves - elephants have a long life-span like humans, and they raise their young for nearly just as long as we raise ours. So the bond between mother and child in elephant societies is one of the strongest, aside from maybe a herd and it’s matriarch. But my guess is since it has been recently proven that elephants in captivity often display signs of depression, perhaps the mother’s depression was severe enough to make her unable to care for her offspring. Either way, the baby elephant cried over the loss because it understood the loss.