Despite our many outward differences, elephants are just like us in a number of key ways. They are highly sensitive, intelligent, and emotional animals who care deeply for their young, and have often been witnessed grieving when a beloved friend or family member dies. In the wild, they live in close-knit matriarchal herds, headed by the eldest female and typically composed of her daughters and their offspring. Adult males usually lead solitary lives or travel in separate bachelor groups.
Elephants can roam for a distance of 30 to 50 miles per day, making them one of the widest-ranging land mammals in the world. Their natural lifestyle of traveling, bathing, and playing with friends and family members keeps them healthy and fit … but sadly, this is not the case for elephants who are forced to live in captivity. An estimated 40 percent of captive elephants are considered to be obese. Foot ailments are the leading cause of death for captive elephants: again, due to the lack of exercise and stimulation they receive in small enclosures. In addition, elephants kept in zoos or circuses often display symptoms of stereotypic behavior such as obsessively bobbing their heads, swaying on the spot, or crying out in distress.
African elephants are currently under threat of extinction due to illicit wildlife poaching, driven by the ivory trade. Asian elephants, meanwhile, are often put to work in the illegal logging industry, or forced to spend their lives entertaining tourists in elephant trekking or painting camps. A life spent in a barren enclosure – or a life spent working to the point of collapse – is no life at all for an elephant. However, the inspiring stories of elephants who have escaped from bleak situations demonstrate the true resilience and courage of these amazing animals.
Wildlife SOS, located in Agra, India, recently shared a beautiful picture to their Facebook page, illustrating just how wonderful it is when two former circus elephants who are managing to recover from their trauma with the help of friendship.
The picture shows two residents, Rhea and Sita, sharing their very first meal together after a long time apart! Doesn’t it just melt your heart?
Rhea is a new arrival to the sanctuary, having endured 53 years as a circus elephant. However, she has adjusted well to her new life … and as the beautiful photograph above demonstrates, she has no shortage of loving new friends to help her. It is wonderful to know that she, Sita, and all of the other pachyderm residents of WSOS will never have to face the ordeal of being abused again.
Wildlife SOS are looking for two hundred new donors to pledge $10 a month in order to fund the cost of Rhea’s care. If you are in a position to be one of those donors, click on the donation link here. You can also find out more about their work by checking out their website or Facebook page.
Image Source: Wildlife SOS/Facebook