Warm Bonding: An Adoptee’s Tender Care for Orphaned Baby Elephants.dieuy

At the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), orphaned baby elephants receive around-the-clock care from dedicated caretakers who stay by their side day and night, ensuring they grow strong and healthy.

The caretakers even sleep near the elephants to feed them throughout the night. One keeper shared with The Dodo, “It feels like having my babies in the same room. It’s reminiscent of when my children were infants, waking up at all hours to feed and care for them.”


Another keeper noted that elephant calves, particularly the very young ones, often vocalize at night. “The young ones are very restless, much like human babies, and wake up frequently,” they said.

When the baby elephants cry out for milk, the keepers wake up to feed them, just like a mother attending to a newborn.


To keep the baby elephants warm, the keepers ensure they are tucked in with blankets when the air gets chilly.

“Years ago, when we slept on mattresses on the floor, the elephants would tug the blankets off to wake us up for milk and gently touch our faces with their wet trunks,” recalled another keeper.

The baby elephants’ need for milk is so strong that they often lose their blankets. “Every three hours, you feel a trunk reach up and pull your blankets off!” exclaimed one keeper.


Many experienced keepers have developed an instinct for when the babies need feeding, saying, “It’s as if their minds are programmed to wake up every three hours.”

Once the baby elephants are fed, the keepers watch over them until they fall back asleep. “They do snore sometimes. They trumpet and kick their legs while they dream, too,” said a keeper.

In addition to snoring, elephants often experience gas, requiring the keepers to adapt to the odors in their sleeping quarters.


“Back when we used to sleep on mattresses on the hay, one elephant nearly dropped dung on my face while I was sleeping. I woke up to find it right before me!” a keeper shared with a laugh.

The keepers must stay with the elephants throughout the night, providing a sense of security akin to having their mother nearby.

“You’re akin to a mother figure for them, and your presence ensures they can sleep soundly. Comfortable sleep fosters their healthy growth,” a keeper explained.

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