Unfortunately, he was instantly rejected by the mother, who even tried to stamp him to death.
When it happened, zookeepers believed it was just an accident, so they took Zhuang out, tended to his injuries and brought him back to his mother only to see him attacked by her in a vicious manner again.
Babies are more often rejected while in captivity than in the wilderness because the mother does not have the necessary support provided by her natural habitat.
Once again, zookeepers had to intervene, saving Zhuang’s life.
However, they could not protect him from emotional trauma, as he cried uncontrollably for a period of five hours after the incident.
This is a heart-breaking story! A baby elephant calf named Zhuang-zhuang wept uncontrollably for five hours after he had to be separated from his mother at the Shendiaoshan wildlife reserve in Rong-cheng, China.
After his mother was seen trying to kick and crush the poor calf, Zhuang-zhuang was isolated and treated for his injuries. Zoo keepers hoped that the attack was an accident, and released him to be with his mother, only to be attacked again. He had to be separated again in order to save his life, and has since been adopted by one of the zoo keepers.
The mother’s reaction to her calf is probably an effect of life in captivity, as animals’ protective instincts can be altered when they live outside of their traditional social structures.
He was crying for five hours non-stop after his mother rejected him.
Ferdinand writes, “In the wild in an elephant herd, all the members of the herd grow up caring for all of the younger calves. They effectively learn to parent with the support of their aunts, sisters and the matriarch.”
“When a calf is born, the mother is surrounded by her female relatives, but she will choose a special ‘auntie’ to help her give birth. The auntie and the other members of the herd assist the mother, but they also pay special attention to the calf. If this is a first-time mother, she may be scared and due to the pain involved in the birth, it is possible the inexperienced mother will attack or hurt the baby, intentionally or unintentionally. The aunties will take the new calf away from the mother allowing her to recover from the pain and slowly be introduced to her new calf. In the wild, it is highly unlikely that a mother would reject her calf as the aunties provide support and assistance to help her accept the baby. Even severely ill or physically injured calves are seldom rejected unless the mother sees there is no hope in saving it.”
“In captivity, female elephants do not have the support of the aunties, instead, humans take the place to provide care. The mother may not grow up learning how to care for younger [elephants] and may be very inexperienced. The human attendants will take the calf away from her as soon as it’s born to allow the mother time to decompress and get over the pain and to assess the health of the baby, similar to when a human gives birth in the hospital.
Though there are cases where inexperienced human handlers have not taken the calf away and the mother elephant is so frightened by the pain and sight of an unfamiliar baby that she will try to harm the calf or reject it. Calves are more often rejected in captivity than in the wild, because the mother lacks the support that is part of elephant natural behavior, Ferdinand surmises”
“He couldn’t bear to be parted from his mother and it was his mother who was trying to kill him.”
The zookeepers treated his injuries and, with the hope that it was just an accident, released him back to his mother.
Unfortunately his mother tried to stamp him again, so he had to be separated permanently.
Luckily, Zhuang-zhuang is fine now after he was adopted by the zookeeper who had saved his life at the Shendiaoshan wild animal reserve in Rong-cheng.
Anyone can write on Bored Panda. Start writing!