When it comes to mice and elephants, most of us know that a very tense relationship exists. Elephants may be massive pachyderms who seem to dominate the world around them with poise and grace – but when you add a mouse into the mix, suddenly these great beings are reduced to nothing more than a bumbling, clumsy mess.
We know we spent most of our childhoods watching cartoon interactions between these animals and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, which is why when we saw this story from the Elephant Conservation Trust (ECT) in Nairobi, Kenya, we had to do a massive double take.
About five years ago, ECT rescued an orphaned elephant named Kutania. The little elephant had gotten trapped in a well and was sadly left behind by her herd. When they found little Kutania, she was in a terrible state and it took months of coaxing to get her to trust her human caretakers. After the apparent rejection she faced after being abandoned by her herd, Kutania was extremely wary of the other elephants at the sanctuary. According to her caretakers, she would run out to play with the other little elephants, but if they didn’t immediately show her attention, she would retreat – afraid to face the brunt of rejection yet again.
This didn’t bode well for little Kutania’s chances of making it in the wild and caretakers were beginning to become resigned to the fact that she would forever be in the confines of the sanctuary – but then something amazing happened.
In February of 2017, a mouse found its way into the elephant nursery’s kitchen area and was discovered by staff right as the hungry little elephants were running out for their morning bottles. Knowing elephants feared mice, staffers quickly shooed the mouse outside. Allegedly, Kutania had observed this action, and rather than recoiling in fear, like the other elephants – she went to comfort the little outcast animal. Her caretakers recall watching the elephant pick up the mouse in a very gentle manner, coaxing the rodent onto her head.
Ever since that day, Kutania and the mouse have been inseparable.
Experts at ETC believe the mouse was also orphaned, as they have never seen another on their property. Perhaps this shared pain is what brought this odd pair together.
Kutania has taken on the role of mother and protector to the little mouse and always makes sure they both have enough to eat – and is more than happy to share snacks.
Thanks to their friendship, Kutania has finally come out of her shell. Caretakers still maintain they’ve never seen anything like this before – but if it’s what makes both of these helpless orphans happy, they’re happy.
We can only hope that in a bit more time, both of these friends can return to the wild and thrive. If we can learn anything from their example, it’s that we all could stand to put aside preconceived notions and learn to love one another despite our differences.