Lulu

It was March 29th, 2008 the day Zimbabwe had yet another Presidential election.  However, those of us at VFWT were also focused on the birth of Lulu which happened early the same morning.  Much like the election, which in the end would cause months of political turmoil, Lulu became a baby elephant that would cause turmoil amongst the elephant herd.  Lulu’s development was superb; she grew fast, drank plenty of milk with colostrums, and was a happy baby elephant.  Unfortunately, in December 2008, Lulu’s mother was involved in an accident and had to be euthanized due to her injuries. 

At 9 months old Lulu became an orphan.  She quickly took a liking to one of our older females, Miz Ellie.  Since Miz Ellie didn’t have any babies of her own (although we suspected her of being pregnant), she took in Lulu.   Over the years with all of our orphans, Miz Ellie has always been receptive to looking over them.  This was a wonderful fit for us.  Lulu has lost none of her spunk, and can often be found trying to see what the grooms are doing, or chasing after Tembe (another young elephant). 

With Lulu being orphaned we were very concerned about her milk intake.  Miz Ellie wasn’t producing milk, despite Lulu’s eagerness to suckle.  We therefore had so supplement Lulu with bottles made from a milk powder formula that we have developed over the years.  Luckily, Lulu took to the bottles without a problem, and in fact doesn’t even need them very often.  For a 9 month old baby elephant, Lulu had remarkable development with being able to eat and digest game cubes, and grass.  With the rainy season being in full swing, Lulu was able to take full advantage of the lush green grass growing everywhere and supplement her diet.  Thanks to the help of Mother Nature, we only had to enhance Lulu’s diet with 4-6 bottles a day. 

 

Out of Lulu’s story we at VFWT have learned a valuable lesson, and are now taking more of a background role with Lulu’s social development.  It is time to let Lulu just be an elephant, and learn from other elephant rather than from humans.  Therefore, other than giving her bottles, we are trying to stand back a ways from Lulu and force her to go to Miz Ellie, Tembe and all the other Elephant in her herd to get the social stimulus she seeks.  For those of us that have helped raise orphans before, this is very difficult, but we know that further on down the line it is what is best for Lulu.  We must try to leave a smaller human imprint on her so that when she is eventually released in the wild, she will survive without human interference.