Orphaned baby elephants are being raised by caretakers who spend all day and night with them helping them grow strong.
A keeper was speaking to The Dodo, he says “It feels the same to me as having my own babies in the same room.
It felt very similar as to when they (his children) were babies, waking up at all hours to feed and change them.”
“The elephant babies call out in the night, especially the very young ones,” another keeper said.
“The young ones are very restless as well, just like human babies, and wake up often.”
“Sometimes they are crying for milk — you have to wake up for them just like a mother with a newborn baby.”
The keepers make sure the babies are covered with blankets when the air gets chilly.
“When the keepers used to sleep on a mattress on the floor, a few years ago now, the elephant would pull the blanket off the keeper to wake them up for milk, and touch their face with a wet trunk,” another added.
When a baby wants milk, they often lose their own blanket! “Every three hours, you feel a trunk reach up and pull your blankets off!” one said.
A lot of the keepers who have been doing this for a while now know when exactly the babies want to be fed, “It’s like their minds are set to wake up every three hours.”
Once fed, they will watch over the babies until they fall back to sleep, “They do snore sometimes.They trumpet and stay fast asleep, and kick their legs while they dream, too.”
Not only do they snore in their sleep, but they are also often gassy too, so the keepers have to get used to the smell in the sleeping area.
“Back when we used to sleep on a mattress on the hay, one elephant very nearly dropped dung on my face as I was sleeping. I woke up and it was right in front of me!”
It is essential the keepers stay with the elephants throughout the night, it helps them feel secure and is the next best thing after having their mother there.
“You are like a mother to them and being there enables them to sleep very comfortably. When they sleep comfortably it allows them to grow healthily.”