Mother’s Day and a fostering programme for wild elephants

Mother’s Day and a fostering programme for wild elephants

By Antonia Filmer | 25 March, 2017
Mother’s Day, wild elephants, Cybele, orphaned elephants, elephant cows, animals, Kenyan orphaned baby elephant,
Orphaned Illingwesi taking his bottle at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

Different cultures have different dates and traditions to celebrate motherhood. In Europe the first celebrations were in Greece in honour of the Minoan Goddess Rhea, the Titaness daughter of the earth Goddess Gaia and the sky GodUranus, mother of Zeus who was King of the Gods on Mount Olympus. 

Cybele, the pregnant mother goddess of Anatolia-Turkey, was adopted by ancient Rome as Magna Mater (Great Mother) after Rome had absorbed her Greek and Phrygian homelands; Cybele is pictured in a chariot drawn by lions, with her foot on a globe bearing the signs of the zodiac she has a kaleidoscope of theological and cosmical myths attached to her; she is the personification of the earth and protector of wildlife.

Some of the best mothers in wildlife are elephants, elephant cows have the longest gestation period of all animals, they carry their young for up to twenty-two months before giving birth. Once born, their dedication to their young becomes more pronounced — calves are entirely dependent on their mother for up to five years and females will remain with their mother for life. In Kenyarescued orphaned infant elephants are severely traumatised by the terribly extreme events that have caused the separation from their mother. Aside from the trauma and shock the infant enters a period of tragic grieving for its lost family, this can last for months. During this critical period their survival hangs in the balance and not all calves can be persuaded to make the effort to live.

Sheldrick has developed the milk formula needed for successfully rearing new-born elephants through their emotionally and physically fragile state during the first few months.

Mother’s Day in UK is on March 26 as an alternative to the proverbial bunch of flowers, Dame Dr Daphne Sheldrick’s fostering programme offers the chance to give the wonderful gift of survival to a Kenyan orphaned baby elephant, showing mothers how much they are appreciated on this Mother’s Day.

Sheldrick has developed the milk formula needed for successfully rearing new-born elephants through their emotionally and physically fragile state during the first few months. This combined with the correct intensive and hands-on husbandry, which involves a human “family” (Keepers) who stay with the orphans in the Nairobi Nursery 24 hours a day, even sleeping with the infants during the night.After several years with their human family the adolescent elephants are release in to the wild when they are ready. Fostering elephants is available online, what gift could be more in keeping with the oldest form of religion,the magical power of nature worship, to honour a human mother by giving an elephant calf a loving family andthe chance of a future in the wild on Mother’s Day.

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