Elephants and humans don’t share much in terms of how we look — there are not many elephants walking around with sunburns, for example. But like us, elephants form deep familial bonds that last a lifetime.
Which is why, despite being rescued after his herd abandoned him, a baby elephant named Ubuntu — affectionately known as Ellie — had such low spirits. He was lonely. He had recovered from a massive umbilical hernia that likely would have been fatal if the Rhino Orphanage in Zululand, South Africa, hadn’t discovered him, weak and barely able to stand, at two weeks old. But even though he was on the mend, he didn’t seem happy. Life just didn’t seem worth it.
Then Ellie met Duma, a German Shepherd, and his life changed forever.
Duma, a retired service dog, knew he had his work cut out for him. Little Ellie was wrapped in a blanket, and disinterested in life. Quickly, however, the two began playing. Soon after, they were inseparable, spending hours together chasing each other over mounds of sand.
The fate of Ellie is currently unknown. Likely, he will rejoin a herd when he has made a full recovery. But his relationship with Duma proves something that everyone who has loved already knows — when you don’t have family, your friends become family. And they mean the world to you.
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