It really is true what they say–– elephants never forget! An 18-year-old elephant named Yatta was rescued from poachers as a baby and raised by human caregivers. Eight years after she was released back into the wild, Yatta still hadn’t forgotten their kindness. She returned to thank her rescuers and to show off her newborn calf.
Orphaned As A Baby
In Africa, at just one-month-old, Yatta was abruptly and tragically left an orphan. Her mother was killed for her tusks, leaving Yatta completely by herself. Men working in the Tsavo/Athi triangle of Tsavo East National Park heard her cries and assisted in transferring her to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT). The DSWT is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned elephants, the first and most successful of its kind. With commitment from workers, volunteers, and donors, the facility has helped to return over 100 orphaned elephants back into the wild. At the time of Yatta’s stay, though she was safe and taken care of, she battled serious health issues including moments of weakness, stiff joints, and collapse. However, after treatment, she began to get better and stronger. She grew up under the care of employees at the facility and was eventually released when she was 10 years old and able to fend for herself. Yatta would, one day, come back with a big surprise in a pretty small package.
A Joyful Homecoming
Yatta came back to the sanctuary with her newborn son, whom the rescuers named Yoyo. Though the calf didn’t leave his mom’s side much, he was excited about the visit, flapping his ears and waving his trunk around everyone. Yatta also brought her firstborn daughter, Yetu, who carefully watched over her little brother. The homecoming of sorts was a very happy occasion both for the elephants and the employees at the facility. “She’s a proud momma. And in a show of absolute trust and affection, she brought her newest baby back to meet the people who saved her,” caretakers shared about Yatta in a statement. “Imagine our delight when she chose to share her second birth with us, returning to her former stockades and her human family, so that we could be a part of celebrating the arrival of her new baby — a healthy little boy.” Rob Brandford, who works at the DSWT, was delighted but not surprised to see Yatta back with her children. “We have not only saved an orphan baby and raised her, but she has successfully returned to the wild and started her own family,” Rob said. “For elephants, family is everything — so it’s no surprise that they choose to share their new family member with their former human carers, for they are part of their family.” In fact, it’s actually quite common for the orphaned elephants to return to the facility.
Take a look at Yatta, Yoyo, and Yetu below.
Another Welcomed Surprise
Yatta isn’t the only mom that came from the DSWT’s care. A field team, which is in place to patrols the area to keep the animals safe, noticed that two of Yatta’s “sisters” who were with her at the facility and live beside her had also given birth to new calves in October. That was the same month that Yoyo was born. These three new calves now bring the DSWT’s total count of wild-born babies to 28. “We are delighted to witness the ex-orphan herds beginning to expand so naturally,” caretakers stated. “There could be no greater gift for us or testament to the success of the Orphans Project than to share the joy of such perfectly healthy baby elephants like our three ‘October kids.’” The hard work and commitment of everyone at the facility continue on as more elephants grow and thrive under their program.
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