The maternal bond is a powerful energy that gives the world its cycle of life. Nothing can be compared to its strong, caring, loyal, tender, and spirited nature.
However, hundreds of factors can affect the bond between the infant and the mother, both emotional and physical. For most mothers the security and welfare of the child is the utmost priority, however, there are some cases that things do not go the way that they should.
One of these cases happened to an elephant calf named Zhuang Zhuang. The calf was born in 2013 and after his birth, its mother rejected him. She almost stamped him to death immediately after giving birth to him.
Thanks to the staff at the Shendiashan Wild Animal Natural Reserve in China the calf was saved and its wounds treated. Because the staff believed that the stamping was an accident, they tried to reintroduce him to its mother after he healed completely.
Unluckily, the situation was not an accident and his mother tried to kill him again. Zhuang Zhuang had to be taken away from her forever. This is when the baby elephant started to cry continuously for 5 hours even though all of the keepers tried to calm and comfort him.
One of the employees stated that “The calf was very upset and he was crying for five hours before he could be consoled. He couldn’t bear to be parted from his mother and it was his mother who was trying to kill him.”
The picture of him crying with tears running down from his big red eyes down to his face went viral and broke everyone’s hearts. Huge psychological distress is caused by elephants that are rejected at birth. Elephants need to grow up in a comfortable and stable condition. All of them want the company and intimacy in their life.
The emotion of an animal is a difficult subject to talk about, however, most people believe that animals have emotions. However, there are still some people who are skeptic about it. However, it has been proven that animals can experience many emotions such as sadness, happiness, curiosity, anxiety, anger, empathy, grief, and fear.
Carl Safina, an award-winning environmental writer, states that animals can feel and show off empathy and that can be seen in elephants, explaining:
“Watching animals my whole life I’ve always been struck by how similar to us they are. I’ve always been touched by their bonds and been impressed—occasionally frightened—by their emotions. Life is very vivid to animals. In many cases, they know who they are. They know who their friends are and who their rivals are. They have ambitions for higher status. They compete. Their lives follow the arc of a career like ours do. We both try to stay alive, get food and shelter, and raise some young for the next generation. Animals are no different from us in that regard and I think that their presence here on Earth is tremendously enriching.”
The grief that comes from losing someone close can be seen clearly in elephants and it’s somewhat the same as the grief in humans. The way they mourn their dead is by circling the body or touching the bones.
This case is pretty rare since family relationships are very crucial for elephants. Elephants have the largest known gestation period with over 22 months. Calves are born blind and they are dependent on their mothers so they’ll survive.
After birth, females in the social group help the calf to its feet.
Zhuang Zhuang snapped out of his grief after a while and now, he’s living a joyful life. He has been adopted by the person that saved him at the Shendiaoshan wild animal reserve where he was born.