Wildlife & Animal Rights

Baby Elephant Cries for Mom

Oftentimes human beings only attribute feelings to other humans.  However, research shows that animals do have feelings – both positive and negative.  They feel happiness, grief, loss and pleasure.  That’s why it is so disturbing to see an animal in pain or suffering.  Sadly, this story is about a baby elephant who was abandoned by his mother.

Baby elephant and mama
Elephants have been known to show both joy and grief.
Image: Shutterstock

In an extremely rare case, a mother elephant attacked and abandoned her own calf at the Shendiaoshan Wild Animal Nature Reserve in Rongcheng, China.  Just after giving birth, the mother stepped on the baby.  All the vets hoped it was an accident.  So, they tried to place the two together again after treating the baby’s injuries.  He was immediately attacked once again.  At that point, the vets took him away from the mother.

At that point, the baby started to cry and didn’t stop for five hours.  If anyone out there thinks animals don’t feel, just look at the photos.  The baby appears to be sobbing.  It seems like he understood that his mother had rejected him and tried to kill him.

During that stage, the baby, named Zhuang Zhuang, was placed under a blanket to soothe him.  Yet, he continued to cry.

The calf has since been cared for by zoo employees who say he is improving.  They believe the mother is depressed since she has given up on eating much at all.

If nothing more can be learned from this, this at least shows that animals experience emotion.  They are extremely intelligent creatures that usually form close familial bond in a matriarchal setting.  In fact, elephants have been known to express a wide range of emotional behavior including joy, grief, rage and compassion.

According to a PBS documentary, “Elephants show joy when playing and greeting others by trumpeting and flapping their ears. When a baby is born, females can sometimes be heard bellowing and blaring. Elephants are widely known for expressing grief after the loss of a loved one, similar to humans. They mourn the dead by touching the bones or circling the body. Some researchers have suggested they may even relive memories and equate such an interest in the dead with evidence they have a concept of death itself.”


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