Life was looking grim for an infant vervet monkey who was found on the side of the road in Zimbabwe. The baby monkey was clinging to his dead mother when he was found by some good samaritans who took him to an animal sanctuary in the area. This sanctuary didn't have any monkeys of his kind, but it wasn't the humans who helped this little guy become who he is today!
This Monkey Was Found Orphaned And Scared For His Life
This little guy's name is Horace. This vervet monkey lives at the Twala Trust Animal Sanctuary in Zimbabwe, Africa. Horace was taken to Twala as a baby after losing his mother in a tragic accident.
"His mom had been hit by a car on a very busy highway. He was found sitting on her body, on the side of the road. He's lucky that he got picked up by the right person, who then brought him here," Twala founder Sarah Carter told The Dodo in 2016.
The Baby Monkey Was Timid In The Caring Hands Of Humans
Horace was just a helpless infant when he was first taken to the Twala Trust Animal Sanctuary. The tiny primate might have been frightened at first in his new environment, but luckily he was in good hands.
Twala provides a safe haven for wildlife creatures in need. As a result, the rescue is home to a variety of different species including cats, dogs, lions, and antelope. You would think that the situation wouldn't fare well, but you'd be surprised...
Some Unlikely Creatures Were There To Help Horace Fit In
For a young vervet like Horace, it might have been intimidating to see all these different animals in the same space. Thankfully, all the animals at the rescue were very welcoming to the newbie.
"Since we had so many orphans at the time, and not enough hands, we had to raise everyone together... They just formed this relationship, which is great," says Carter. It was just up to Horace to warm up to his new roommates. The kittens weren't the only ones who wanted to be friends with Horace either.
It Took Some Time, But Horace Eventually Warmed Up To Them
As Horace grew up at Twala, he began warming up to his new friends. The rescue has a variety of wild and domestic animals, but Horace was first drawn to the equally adorable kittens.
Perhaps they were less intimidating because they were similar in size and, after all, who could be afraid of a kitten?! But soon enough, Horace grew close to the older members of the rescue, who learned to accept the monkey as one of their own as you'll see next.
Horace Developed A Special Connection With The Cats
Soon enough, Horace was comfortable enough to snuggle up to his new feline friends. Being that they were around as he was growing up, Horace most likely felt a special bond towards them.
Aside from his human caretakers, these felines probably felt obligated to care for this orphaned monkey. A lot of people see cats as finicky animals, but here you can clearly see how open and loving they can be – especially towards other animals!
Soon The Other Animals Started Warming Up To Horace Too
Pretty soon, Horace was making friends with more of the animals at Twala. One of his closest pals would be Keiko, one of several rescue dogs who also lived at the sanctuary.
Twala is home to a variety of wild and domestic animals who've been abandoned or abused. Sarah Carter and her team continually work hard to provide a safe and nurturing environment for these animals who otherwise might not have made it on their own in the wild. You'll laugh when you see what antics Horace is always up to!
Horace Developed A Reputation For Some Particular Things
As he grew up, Horace earned a reputation for napping a lot. Horace has a tendency to fall asleep anywhere, especially when he's cuddling with one of his feline friends. It must be the comfort of having someone around to make you feel protected.
"Horace is a master napper. He fights it though as he is afraid he will miss something... And he loves to nap and sleeps anywhere he pleases," Carter told Daily Mail in 2015.
Horace Is Like A Real-Life Curious George
Horace has even made friends with the resident antelope at Twala. He may seem like a bit of a nuisance, but the animals know that it's just Horace's playful and curious nature. There is never any true roughhousing between these animals.
"Horace is hugely confident and affectionate having been raised in a very diverse and loving environment at Twala," says Carter. "He has many friends, human and animal, and is seldom alone. He is mischievous, extremely clever and endlessly entertaining."
Horace Always Wants What He Knows He Can't Have
"His biggest vice is being irresistibly drawn to the forbidden food he is not allowed to eat, places he shouldn't be, objects he is not supposed to touch," Carter told Daily Mail.
Horace may be a bit of a food-stealer, but lucky for him it was actually snack time when this photo was taken. The animals often share meals together and often eat a healthy buffet of natural fruits and veggies. Horace also spends so much time with other species that he starts to act like them too!
Horace Is More Mischevious Than Meets The Eye
Here are Horace and resident rescue cat Freddie. Horace appears to be napping on top of Freddie, but Carter warns that just might be a ploy.
She told Daily Mail, "Horace always makes me laugh, he is a consummate thief - he pretends to be otherwise engaged whilst sidling up to you to pinch a pen or a bit of paper or food. He will also come and cuddle someone, person or animal, as a ploy to distract them to steal something."
Horace Finds Fascination In Everything
"He is insatiably curious - into everything, and often comes and watches me writing or typing with absolute fascination, before stealing my pen or jumping on the keyboard," Carter said.
The other animals at the sanctuary don't seem to mind. In fact, they are happy to allow Horace's curiosity to flourish. At Twala, the animals miraculously coexist without having their animal instincts take a dangerous turn. This is probably thanks to the nurturing environment in which they were brought up.
Horace Likes To Roam With The Cats At Night
Horace has also taken on a lot of his friends' characteristics as well. Though he is a vervet monkey, Horace sometimes likes to act like a cat.
"He runs around in the middle of the night, in the dark, with the cats.. All the other monkeys got to sleep when it starts to get dark because that's their instinct. Meanwhile, Horace is busy running around the garden at 10 o'clock at night. He's a character," Carter told The Dodo. What is the secret to making these odd friendships work?
Horace Thinks He Is A Little Prince Among His Friends
Being the sleepy monkey that he is, Horace is sometimes too lazy to walk on his own. But no worries! Keiko is happy to give Horace a ride to wherever he needs to go around the sanctuary.
Horace may be growing into his adult years, but he still likes to act like the baby of the bunch. His dog and cat friends, hilariously annoyed as they may seem in the photos, at least treat Horace like their own baby brother.
Horace Likes To Ponder The Complexities Of Life When He's Not Running Around
Horace has certainly developed a personality all his own as well. Growing up in a sanctuary is definitely different from growing up in the wild, but this makes Horace truly unique among his kind.
"He is a thinker - often sits gazing into the middle distance, twirling a leaf or a flower or a twig in his hands, totally lost in thought," Carter told Daily Mail. We can only wonder what Horace might be daydreaming!
Horace And His Pals Have Each Other As Support
Horace and the other animals are lucky to have been found and taken to Twala. They'll grow up with a strong support system that might not have been possible if not for the diverse array of inhabitants.
Some might say that goes against Horace's nature, but Carter would disagree. "Here [he] has friends and he's safe. He has the backup of everyone here at the sanctuary - people and animals," she told The Dodo. This was especially true after Horace was found in his own tragic accident!
Pairing Animals With Different Species Is Actually Healing
Freddie is one of Horace's favorite cuddling pals as you can see. Even though the animals are all of a different species, the Sarah Carter's sanctuary only proves that all creatures might share an empathetic instinct.
"We get lots of orphaned animals coming in, so you can't always pair them with the same animal. But for them to be able to be with another creature is really healing and comforting for them, no matter if they're different," said Carter.
When Another Baby Vervet Came, Horace Took Responsibility
Twala Trust Animal Sanctuary tries to pair animals with their same species if they can. So when another vervet orphan came tot he sanctuary, they knew just who to pair him with!
Now that Horace is older, he takes care of newcomers whenever they're introduced into the sanctuary. This little monkey is Hamish, who was an orphan just like Horace. Horace felt a special connection with this little guy since Hamish is reminiscent of himself as a baby.
Horace Showed Hamish The Comforts Of Cuddling
Hamish was attached to Horace for much of his upbringing in the sanctuary. Of course, Horace was happy to oblige to offer comfort. But that didn't mean that Horace still didn't need comfort on his own!
Carter told The Dodo that Horace has shown them how much comfort animals of different species can find solace within each other. "We learned that from Horace," she said. "They form these amazing bonds. It just brings so much comfort to all of them."
Horace's Playfulness Ended With Him Losing An Arm
Horace may be an adult now but that doesn't mean he still doesn't get into some trouble. In 2016, Twala shared the unnerving news that Horace suffered an intense electrical shock from a power line.
"He was found unconscious and severely burnt on both arms. It is an absolute miracle that he survived such a massic shock... Horace has always lived free, as he should do, but... we cannot protect him from the many dangers that animals face in the world," they wrote on Facebook.
Horace Can Go Back To The Wild, But Why Would He?
Though he survived the shock, the vets did have to amputate one of his arms. But that hasn't slowed Horace down. After recovery, it was back to his awesome life at the sanctuary.
"Horace is free to go wherever he wants. There's nothing stopping him from leaving. He chooses to stay... He really does have the best life," Carter told The Dodo. Horace is perfectly healthy and grown now, but the sanctuary isn't making him stay. He really has no reason to leave!
An Elephant Is Abandoned By Its Herd
No one knows for sure (there are theories) why this baby elephant was abandoned by its heard in South Africa, but if it weren’t for a rescue team finding him, he never would have never had a chance at survival. Malnourished and sick, the team knew it was going to face an uphill battle to save his life.
Luckily, this was one uphill battle they were prepared to fight. Their original plan was to get the baby healthy enough to have another herd adopt it. No one expected the best medicine the elephant would receive would end up complicating those plans.
The Importance Of Growing Up In The Herd
The best thing possible for the abandoned elephant would have been to re-introduce it with a herd as quickly as possible. Living on a reserve, the rescuers knew what herd the little fella belonged to and tried their best to re-unite him with his family.
Tragically, the herd rejected several attempts to take the baby back, leaving the team baffled about what to do next. They quickly realized their only course of action to save the elephant was to take care of it themselves, then try and release it back into its herd again.
The Rescue Team Named The Baby Elephant Ellie
The abandoned elephant was two years old when it came to the Thula Thula Private Game Reserve in Zululand, South Africa. The rehabilitation team at the reserve gave the elephant two names; Ubuntu and Ellie. Ellie quickly captured everyone’s heart, and everyone knew his time was running out.
The first thing the team had to do at the reserve was give Ellie a thorough health assessment. They needed to learn what was wrong with Ellie before they could treat him.
Ellie Was Given A One Percent Chance To Live
During the assessment, the medical team found that Ellie was suffering from several life-threatening conditions. The most severe was his infected umbilical hernia. In the wild, an elephant with this ailment dies 99 percent of the time. The reserve faced severe pressure but wasn’t ready to let Ellie become another statistic.
Ellie’s team began to develop a care plan that would ensure he would live to run with his herd again one day. Still, at this point, they knew to rehab the elephant wasn’t going to be easy. They had grown attached to Ellie and feared for his future.
Ellie Was Given 24-Hour Care To Ensure His Survival
The dedicated care team at the private reservation assigned Ellie a 24-hour care team, ready to help at a moment’s notice in case anything went wrong. They were motivated and determined to save Ellie’s life and kept a close eye on him as a result.
As the reserve cared for Ellie, they discovered his health was worse than imagined. One issue even arose after they took him in. This problem was serious and took all the creativity the team had to find a solution for.
Ellie Became Intolerant To Milk
Desperate for a solution, the team turned to coconut oil mixed with protein and minerals for Ellie to drink. Miraculously, and to everyone’s relief, the baby elephant took to his new formula and began growing stronger by the day.
With Ellie eating and getting his energy back, the team felt the extreme pressure of the rehab process begin to ease. They had just found a solution to an impossible problem and felt prepared for anything else the world would throw at them.
Even Elephants Get Depressed
According to one of Ellie’s caretakers, the elephant “was particularly weak and particularly ill.” Ellie was getting healthy, but his happiness was non-existent. He wasn’t showing interest in doing anything and was very lethargic. The rescue team knew something was wrong, and needed to come up with a solution fast.
Ellie may have been given a new life, but was alone and depressed. He was withdrawn and the companionship of humans wasn’t cheering him up. Ellie, it turned out, was more than just depressed, he was dealing with severe emotional trauma.
Ellie Couldn’t Come To Terms With Losing His Family
Ellie had a particularly rough start to his life. Growing up in the animal kingdom isn’t easy, and being abandoned by his herd for being sick was devastating for him. Even though his health was improving, the rehab team could see his emotional state was declining.
The team knew they needed to introduce Ellie to new friends. Socializing is critically important to elephants in the animal kingdom, and up to this point in his life, Ellie’s only friends were human.
So Many Animals To Make Friends With, Which Kind Would Ellie Choose?
The Thula Thula Private Game Reserve was home to many different kinds of animals. Some, like leopards and crocodiles, wouldn’t have been appropriate for Ellie to befriend, while others, like the zebra or buffalo, might accept the infant as one of their own.
As the team introduced Ellie to the different animals at the reserve, though, he didn’t show much interest in any of them. This couldn’t have been encouraging for the team, but hope wasn’t lost. There was still one more animal for Ellie to meet, and his name was Duma.
Duma Is A Good Boy
With Ellie rejecting the reserve’s other wild residents, the team introduced her to Duma; an adult male German shepherd. Duma lived on the grounds and used to be a police dog. On the reserve, he was free to wander where he wanted and make friends with whoever he wanted.
You might think because Duma worked for the police, he would be gruff and maybe even a loner. He was the exact opposite and well known at the reserve for his tender and caring demeanor with all the animals there.
Ellie and Duma Are a Match Made In Heaven
As soon as Ellie met Duma and they became friends, his attitude change. Ellie was happier and interested in playing again. As one the rehab team described it, “we introduced Duma and the elephant in the sandpile, and it immediately cheered the elephant up.”
Over the next few weeks, Ellie became happy again. The relationship between he and Duma was growing stronger every day until they were practically inseparable. The rehab team at the reserve couldn’t have found Ellie a better companion if they wanted to.
Ellie Makes A Surprising Recovery But Our Story Doesn’t End Here
With Ellie now best friends with Duma, it looked like the long journey to his recovery and revival was coming to the end. The two animals were inseparable and Ellie’s fatigue and depression both appeared to be gone. As for his physical setbacks, they were almost gone, too!
During the day, Ellie and Duma could be found playing together in dirt mounds and taking nap breaks under nearby trees. Some at the reserve even said it looked like Ellie would smile when they saw the furry friend approaching. Friendship isn’t the only positive benefit Duma provided.
Duma Becomes Ellie’s Dad
Duma took his role as Ellie’s friend seriously. He took it so seriously that after weeks of playing together, he took on more of a paternal role in their friendship. Thula Thula employees said it became hard to keep Duma away from Ellie.
Not only was he always around Ellie, he taught her how to play and worked as her personal protector. Wherever Ellie went, Duma followed. He would provide the young elephant comforting nuzzles and bring him sticks to play with. Within months it appeared Ellie had made a full recovery, and the team was going to have a tough decision about his future.
Videos Of The Friends Capture The World’s Attention
The rehab team couldn’t believe their eyes with Ellie’s recovery and friendship wth Duma, saying “against all odds, this little elephant is still with us.” For the first time since his arrival, Ellie was happy and playful. The team began to take videos of the best friends and posting them online.
In no time, Ellie and Duma became an internet sensation. As happy as this made the rehab team, it also brought up a new problem. With Ellie’s health in good standing, they needed to consider reintroducing to the herd.
Ellie’s Release Back Into The Wild Becomes Questionable
The original plan with Ellie was to release him back into the herd when he recovered. After seeing the friendship he formed with Duma and how profoundly it had affected him, that future was suddenly put into question. Another option was to place Ellie with a herd living on the reserve.
Both futures for Ellie meant breaking his bond with Duma. Thula Thula couldn’t keep the elephant in the rehab center forever, but just like when Ellie showed up sick and depressed, the decision of what to do next was far more complicated then it appeared.
Thanks To Duma, The Team Didn’t Have To Make A Decision Right Away
The rehab team didn’t know what to do, but luckily they didn’t need to make a decision right away. Obviously they couldn’t keep Ellie forever, but they could take as much time as they needed to contemplate his best future. The happy bond with Duma ensured that.
Everything seemed to be working in Thula Thula’s favor. They had overcome every obstacle they faced and had successfully nursed Ellie back to health with the help of Duma the dog.
Ellie’s Health Takes A Sudden Down Turn
Caretakers at Thula Thula thought the worst was behind them and were dreaming of the happy life ahead for Ellie. Then their worst fears snuck up on them. Ellie was struck ill, and the team that had spent months caring for him was absolutely blindsided.
In January 2016, Ellie’s health took a downward spiral and the reserves’ medical team was forced to jump back into action. They might not have been emotionally prepared to handle the sick elephant, but based on their history, they thought they were medically prepared.
Ellie’s New Sickness Is Actually An Old One
When Ellie took ill for the second time, one of his caretakers from Thula Thula tweeted out, “we need to get IV colloids brought thru for a collapsed elephant calf.” The staff was under-supplied, and tweeting a plea for help was one of the only things they could do to get help.
So what exactly had happened? When Ellie was first brought in, one of his ailments was a septicemia infection. After months of recovery, the infection unexpectedly returned and was spreading through his body fast. The medical team had persevered through so much, but would this turn out to be too much?
Ellie Loses His Battle For Life
After five months and what appeared to be a full recovery, Ellie the elephant tragically passed away five days after his infection returned. The Thula Thula reserve was heartbroken. They fought tooth and nail to nurse Ellie back to health, and just when it looked like they had a happy ending, it was taken away.
They posted the sad news online and were bombarded with heartfelt condolences from Ellie’s millions of fans. They called Ellie tough and brave, and despite his untimely end, no one doubted his story would live on.
Ellie Is Finally Free To Roam The Wild
The rehab team was overcome with “deep sadness and so many tears” but found comfort know they showed Ellie happiness before his life ended. When he came to the reserve he was sick and depressed. Then, for a brief time, he was healthy and happy.
After the reserve buried Ellie, they posted a note online that read, “Ellie has been returned to the wild buried in a special place at Thula where his spirit can roam with the herd.” The reserve knew they lost the battle with Ellie, but also saw from the support they received and knew the bigger fight was still winnable.
The Bond Between Duma And Ellie Will Never Be Forgotten
Ellie’s millions of fans weren’t the only ones who had to say goodbye to him. Duma, Ellie’s best friend and adopted father, needed to say good bye as well. We don’t know how Duma took the news, but we can imagine he was pretty down.
Duma didn’t lay down and give up on his work, though. After all, Ellie wasn’t the only animal he helped take care of. He wasn’t the first and he wouldn’t be the last. Before long, Duma found another fried on the reserve.
Duma Makes A New Friend
Duma didn’t waste any time finding a new animal in need to help take care of. Instead of sitting around and being sad about the loss of Ellie, the old German Shepard took kindly to another.
What animal did Duma take under his wing next? The caretakers found a baby rhinoceros that needed a friend. After his experience with Ellie, they knew Duma would be perfect to provide the friendship needed for the rhino’s emotional recovery.
Duma Is Given A New Patient
It felt like Deja Vu when the Thula Thula reserve took over the care of baby black rhinoceros that had been through severe emotional trauma. The rhino was the only survivor of poachers. She had no family left and needed protection and friends.
The reserve made the decision to introduce Duma to the baby rhino, whom they named Nandi, to see if the same magic that happened with Ellie would happen again. It was a risk for sure, but it was a very well calculated risk.
Dog Meets Rhino
Black rhinos are an endangered species, so preserving the health of Nandi became concern number one for Thula Thula. It was Duma’s time to shine, he just needed to do something special to introduce himself to the young animal. An expert in making friends with exotic animals, the clever dog knew just what to do.
Duma approached Nandi with energy, curiosity, and a stuffed animal toy for the rhino to have. No one knew what to expect watching the meeting, but like with Ellie before, something beautiful and heartwarming happened.
Friends Who Frolic Together Stay Together
Duma offered the toy to Nandi and without hesitation, the two began playing together. Nandi learned one of Duma’s favorite games, and the two were instant friends. They then began to playfully chase each other and the rest is history.
Before long, Nandi not only knew the rules of the games, she was the one starting the game. Her and Duma became inseparable, but the reserve knew that another problem was going to arise soon.
What Happens When Nandi Grows Up?
Introducing Nandi to Duma as a baby was the easy part. Knowing what would happen when Nandi grew up and could pose a serious threat to her fluffy friend was another question altogether. After videos of the pair went viral, fans around the world began asking the same question.
Thula Thula assured the world they weren’t worried about what might happen. Because Duma was so close to Nandi, the German Shephard was incredibly perceptive at sensing her moods and reacting appropriately. They even had a cute nickname for Duma when it came to Nandi.
Duma Is The “Rhino Whisperer”
Part of what made Duma so adept with Nandi was his previous experience working with black rhinos. As they say, this was not his first rodeo. Or, as Thula Thula puts it, “Duma has been reared with rhinos and worked with a much larger black rhino, he is exceptional at reading their behavior and seems to know when to get out of the way.”
Duma’s talent with animals is impressive. It seems no matter the size or species, the German shepherd has a gift for making friends. We know we won’t forget the heartwarming gift Duma passes onto his animal friends anytime soon!