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Elephants are some of the most dynamic creatures on the planet. In the wild, elephants live in closely bonded matrilineal herds, headed by the oldest and most experienced female. The herds are comprised of this matriarch, her daughters, and their offspring. As one of the widest-ranging mammals on Earth, elephants have been known to travel up to 50 miles a day. Like humans, they, too, grieve when a loved one dies, and seek to comfort and reassure one another.

Elephants who are held in zoos, circuses, and other captive animal facilities never get to experience any semblance of a normal life. Zoo enclosures can never hope to provide these animals with the kind of mental stimulation, social enrichment, and physical activity they would experience in their natural habitat. It has been estimated that around 40 percent of zoo elephants are obese, due to the sedentary lifestyles they are forced to lead.

Circus elephants far no better. During the “training” process, circuses regularly torture their elephants into compliance by means of bullhooks and other painful instruments. In Thailand, elephants are often forced to work in elephant painting facilities, elephant trekking camps, or the illegal logging industry. Unless they are lucky enough to be rescued from such a fate, the elephants can expect nothing but a life of misery.

The tale of two elderly Asian elephants – Oma Kali and Sundar Mala – who formed a touching friendship after many years in captivity, has been told in a sweet series of images posted to Facebook by Elephant Aid International, A Carol Buckley Project (EAI). Oma Kali was rescued last year after spending almost sixty years as a working elephant in Nepal. EAI provided her with “a 4-acre chain-free corral” … and she was also joined by a friend of her own kind: Sundar Mala, who had spent sixty-two years in captivity.

As soon as they set eyes on one another, these two weary old elephants – tired and traumatized after a life of captivity and abuse – formed a close, loving bond of friendship.

Captivity May Have Damaged These Elephants' Spirits, but They're Recovering With the Help of Friendship

EAI said, “What a joy to see these two wild-caught elephants, who had spent decades living alone, in chains, in service to man, finally experiencing relative freedom and family.”

Captivity Damaged These Elephants' Spirits, but They Learned to Recover With the Help of Friendship

 Oma Kali and Sundar Mala accompanied one another everywhere.

Captivity Damaged These Elephants' Spirits, but They Learned to Recover With the Help of Friendship

The elephants provided one another with all of the love and comfort that had been missing from their lives up until that time.

Captivity Damaged These Elephants' Spirits, but They Learned to Recover With the Help of Friendship

 The pair were inseparable.

Captivity Damaged These Elephants' Spirits, but They Learned to Recover With the Help of Friendship



Sadly, the friendship was cut short a few weeks ago when Oma Kali suddenly passed away, leaving Sundar Mala bereft. According to EAI, “Her life force simply slipped away. She died peacefully in the company of the only friend she had ever known. Sundar Mala grieved the loss of her dear friend for days, not eating or drinking.”

This bittersweet end to Oma Kali’s life – so much of which had been spent in chains, with an all-too-brief period of peace and love at the very end – is bound to pull at the heartstrings of every animal lover who hears it. EAI said, “Their time together was so short, but without a doubt, Oma Kali left this earth knowing she was loved, and Sundar Mala will never forget her dear, dear friend Oma Kali.”

To learn more about how you can help captive elephants, read up on some of the posts below:

Image Source: Elephant Aid International, A Carol Buckley Project/Facebook

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