Rejected Elephant

What happened to the baby elephant that was rejected by his mother?

Back in 2013 at a Chinese Zoo, a female elephant gave birth to her calf. Soon after she gave birth, the mother decided to kill her newborn calf, but did not succeed as zookeepers intervened before she could do more danger.

It was speculated by the veterinarians of the zoo that it was an accident, leading them to cure the calf’s injuries and again placing him with his mother two hours later. However she again tried to crush the calf to death. Faced with rejection, an employee said that “The calf was very upset and he was crying for five hours before he could be consoled.” 

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What has happened to the calf since?

The calf was later adopted by a keeper at the Shendiaoshan Wild Animal Reserve in Rong-cheng, China. The mother has been stated to have lost her appetite and might have been depressed.

This has led to a debate about whether the mother was just feeling depressed or if she did not want the calf to be a part of the zoo industry like she is, thus being exposed to daily confinement. Elephants are known to be expressive creatures that are known to show many emotion such as joy, rage, grief and compassion. According to Virginia Morrell from National Geographic, researches in Kenya have watched mother elephants and other female elephants help baby elephants climb up muddy banks and out of holes to find a safe path.

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So why did the mother decide to stomp her baby calf

We do not know what goes behind the gates, where the animals are forced to live in artificial and boring conditions as they are removed from the natural habitats and are confined in small rooms in order for us humans to observe them. This can lead them to form symptoms known as Zoochosis which stem from constant boredom, depression, frustration, a lack of mental and physical enrichment, and removal from their natural habitat.  As well, zoos know that baby animals are what attracts customers so as soon as the animal grows up, it is either sold to game farms or killed.

Was this what the mother was experiencing or was she trying to save her baby?

Works Cited

“Baby Elephant ‘cries’ for Five Hours after Mother Tried to Stamp Him to Death Shortly after Birth.” Dailymail.co.uk. Daily Mail Australia. 12 Sept. 2013. Web. 06 Nov. 2015.

Cotroneo, Christian. “Baby Elephant Rejected By His Mom Isn’t Crying Anymore.” The Dodo. 04 Nov. 2015. Web. 06 Nov. 2015.

Morell, Virginia, “It’s Time to Accept That Elephants, Like Us, Are Empathetic Beings.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 23 Feb. 2014. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

“Zoos”. LCAanimal.org. Last Chance for Animals. n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.


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