Baby Elephant, Rejected By His Herd, Finds Hope Again With German Shepherd

In Zululand, South Africa, an unlikely pair has become best friends: a baby elephant and a German Shepherd.

Ellie the baby elephant was shunned and rejected by his herd, and he also had big health problems. For most young elephants, all of this would mean an early death. Luckily for him, he was discovered by the Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage in South Africa, and he made a new best friend: Duma, the German Shepherd puppy.

When Ellie arrived at the rhino orphanage he was critically ill with an umbilical hernia and had little chance of survival.

The game reserve usually rehabilitates baby rhinos, victims of South Africa’s poaching crisis, but is also home to other African wildlife like elephants, buffalo, leopards, giraffes, zebras, hyenas, and crocodiles.

 So why is Ellie here? He was brought to the orphanage after he was rejected by his herd, in spite of numerous attempts to reunite him with his family.

When Ellie the elephant first arrived, his rescuers didn’t think he would make it, but they nursed him day and night.


Photo Credit: Screenshot from Youtube video

As Maren Trendler, a rehabilitation and crisis response expert at the orphanage, explains, “He also had a huge umbilical hernia and abscess. … In about 99 percent of these cases an umbilical abscess of that nature is fatal. … Against all odds, this little elephant is still with us.” 

Ellie had an intolerance to milk and nothing seemed to work. So the orphanage decided to make him a special milk formula, and he slowly started to stabilize.

Eventually Ellie’s physical health improved, but his mental health did not, because elephants are social animals and known to be hard to raise away from a herd. He was depressed and lethargic until Duma, the German shepherd hero, swooped in.

With the arrival of Duma, a former service and sniffer dog, things seemed to turn around for Ellie. The young elephant had been lethargic, not interested in anything, until the orphanage introduced the two at a sand pile. Immediately Ellie started being interested in life again. Duma and Ellie became friends, bonding in spite of their many differences.


Photo Credit: Screenshot from Youtube video

For the past few weeks, their relationship has been growing so much that the carers have a “hard time keeping Duma away from the elephant,” Trendler explains.

Ellie’s future is still uncertain, since elephants generally need to be part of a herd to develop and grow. But right now, Ellie and Duma are happy together.


Nellie K Adaba
Nellie K Adaba1 years ago

I'm happy for the elephant, rejection is not easy.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Elaine Al Meqdad
Elaine Al Meqdad1 years ago


Melania Padilla
Melania P2 years ago


Virginia Smith
Virginia Belder2 years ago


Fi T.
Past Member 2 years ago

Beauty of love

Pamela Dubsky
Pamela Dubsky2 years ago

That's wonderful that they are helping this elephant! Thankyou!

darcy cayre
Darcy C2 years ago

Soo happy she has found a friend to bond with (besides all fantastic humans around her) !! :)))

Maureen King
Maureen King2 years ago

How good is that,for both of them.Hope eventually the elephant will be back,with his own kind,in a herd.It won't be the only friend either of them will ever have.Well done to the carers.
The original herd obviously did not expect her to survive. From what the carers said with out human intervention that would have been the case.In nature it's only the strongest that will survive. That is just how it is if that species is going to continue.

Cela V.
Cela V2 years ago