We aren’t so different from the animals who roam this planet. They get lonely and sad just like we do. They also can be lifted out of a dark place with a little bit of help from a caring friend.
This is the story of Baby, a blind rescue cow who was down on her luck until she found comfort in an unlikely companion. Sometimes it takes a bit of animal intuition to figure out why someone is feeling blue.
Meet Baby, The Blind Cow
This is Baby. She was rescued when she was young and for a long time, she lived at Don’t Forget Us Pet Us animal sanctuary in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
Because Baby was blind, she wasn’t able to live her life as a normal, sighted cow would. She would need around-the-clock care that she wouldn’t be able to find at an average farm. That’s where Don’t Forget Us Pet Us came in.
The Sanctuary Went Above And Beyond
Even though she was blind, Baby was actually a very lucky cow. She wound up at the best possible place for a disabled animal. Don’t Forget Us Pet Us is owned by Deb Devlin (who’s pictured above on the left).
She went above and beyond to give Baby the best care possible. Deb is extremely dedicated to all of the animals at the sanctuary. One day, she noticed that Baby wasn’t being her usual happy-go-lucky self.
Baby Was Lonely
Even though Baby was getting excellent care at Don’t Forget Us Pet Us, there was something the sanctuary couldn’t give her: the company of other cows. Baby was completely isolated.
There were no other cows that were in need of rescue in the area, but Deb had an idea. What if another kind of animal could be Baby’s friend? She had seen different animal species form unlikely bonds before, and she was hoping that she could create something similar for Baby.
Meet Lulu, The Friendly Pig
This is Lulu. As you can plainly see, she’s a pig and not a cow at all, but Deb thought that Lulu and Baby’s personalities might just mesh perfectly.
Lulu came to the sanctuary after her mother accidentally broke her legs when she was a piglet. Lulu and Baby both had special needs and they had taken similar journeys in life. There was a chance that Lulu could be the answer to Baby’s loneliness.
Similar Origin Stories
Baby and Lulu were alike in a bunch of ways. They both had disabilities, but they were also both rescued from slaughterhouses in America. They also seemed to have similar temperaments.
They were both patient and sweet, although they could sometimes be mopey. They both enjoyed food more than just about anything else, and they both liked getting their backs scratched in the same place. It was like these two animals were meant to be together.
The First introduction
Deb thought that these two might be a match, but there would be no way to tell until she actually introduced them to each other. The staff at Don’t Forget Us Pet Us put Lulu and Baby in a pen together, and the two animals bonded immediately. Baby wouldn’t leave Lulu’s side.
One of the workers explained, “I had tried to pair Baby up with other animals, and it just didn’t work.”
Deb’s Plan Actually Worked
Even though Deb wanted these two animals to be friends, she wasn’t sure if it was going to work out, so she was over the moon when she saw how quickly Lulu and Baby bonded. Deb said, “I didn’t think the pig would be aggressive to the cow, and the pig was plenty sturdy. If the cow accidentally bumped into her, [Lulu] would be OK.”
It was a solid plan, and it seemed to be working.
A Friendship That Went The Distance
Lulu became something of a seeing-eye pig for Baby. She would guide her around the pen and make sure that she didn’t bump into things. Baby and Lulu lived together for eight years. Over that time, they formed a very close friendship that only got stronger as the years progressed.
These two were inseparable. They seemed to be able to communicate with each other even though Baby couldn’t see and Lulu was a totally different species.
Staying Close To Home
Some of the other animals at the sanctuary were able to go off into the fields and explore the area beyond the rescue farm. Because of Baby and Lulu’s disabilities, they had to stay closer to home.
Baby would get lost in a big field and Lulu couldn’t get very far on her broken legs. These two lived in a smaller world, but they liked their small world. It was comfortable and safe.
Lunch Buddies Are The Best Buddies
Baby and Lulu did pretty much everything side by side. The slept together, they walked together, and they even ate together.
Lulu helped Baby get around and Baby helped Lulu feel like she had a purpose in this life. These two were living the good life, but good things don’t last forever. Everything is temporary. Eventually, Baby and Lulu’s eight-year-long friendship came to an end. One of them just couldn’t keep putting one foot in front of the other.
A Sad Day For These Two
Lulu was an older pig, and she had lived a long and pleasant life, even after getting a rough start to life in the slaughterhouse. She was so lucky that Deb found her and took her in, but her time on this earth had come to an end.
Lulu passed away peacefully with her friend by her side, but now that Lulu was gone, everyone at the sanctuary was worried about Baby.
Baby Mourned The Loss Of Her Friend
After Lulu died, Baby’s whole demeanor changed. She went back to being the lonely cow that she had been all those years ago. “After Lulu’s passing, Baby mooed for two days. She also walked in circles frantically, hitting the fencing”, Deb said. “I tried [to pair her with] a sheep, a goat, but nothing worked at all.”
Clearly, Lulu wasn’t a friend who could be easily replaced. Baby had to experience her grief at her own pace.
Attempts To Find A New Friend For Baby
Deb was starting to get worried about Baby’s mood and overall condition. She had heard stories about animals dying from grief, and she didn’t want that to happen to Baby.
Deb tried to pair Baby up with other animals, but she didn’t bond with any of them the way she bonded with Lulu. Deb was starting to lose hope, but then a new rescued animal arrived at Don’t Forget Us Pet Us…
A New Baby For Baby
The new rescue animal was a baby calf. As soon as Deb saw the little cow she was hopeful that this animal and Baby would hit it off. They even kind of looked alike. She was so happy that Baby would finally have another cow to play with.
Deb said, “The day the calf arrived, I had set up two small areas divided by an eight-foot gate. I was hoping to acclimate the two side by side first.”
A Slow Start To The Friendship
Deb didn’t want to take any chances with this introduction. Baby needed a friend, and Deb wanted to do everything she could to ensure this introduction went smoothly.
Deb said, “Baby could get used to her noises, movement, smell, sounds… She was so in tune to those things, not having her sight.” Slowly but surely, Baby and the calf walked towards each other. It looked like things were going well.
They Were Happy To See Each Other
“When the calf unloaded into her small pen, she was nervous and timid. She quickly saw Baby and she blasted that gate off its hinges.” Deb said. “It was still secured on one side by a chain so she jumped the four-foot width of the gate and ran to Baby’s side.”
These two had just met, and already they were acting like old friends. Deb was happy with the way things were going so far.
Baby Knew A Friend When She Smelt One
As soon as Baby sensed that the calf was galloping towards her, she seemed happier. Her ears perked up and then she took off running, just as though she were a calf herself.
The staff at Don’t Forget Us Pet Us hadn’t seen Baby that excited since Lulu died, and all the worries the had about these two creatures not getting along just melted away. This calf escaped a slaughterhouse just like Baby, so maybe they were bonding over a shared past.
Baby Pays It Forward
This calf could never replace Lulu, but she could give Baby the friendship and company she so desperately needed. This calf was new to the sanctuary and there was so much for her to learn.
Baby took it upon herself to show the calf the ropes. She showed her where the best place to graze was and guided her around the pen. She took everything that Lulu taught her and passed it on to the little cow.
Every Friendship Is Unique
“The bond was immediate, the love instant, and even though Baby has never had a baby… she takes care of, protects and nurtures this little calf… all the things Lulu did for her. It is so incredible!” Deb said happily.
These two have their own unique bond. It’s a bond that’s different from the one Baby had with Lulu, but it’s just as special. They make each other happy and they keep each other company.
A Happy Ending For Baby
These two rescued cows could live out the rest of their lives together at Don’t Forget Us Pet Us sanctuary. Baby’s friendship with Lulu was one of a kind and it will never be replaced, but this calf gave Baby a reason to keep living.
Lulu will live on forever in all of our hearts, and Deb and all of the staff are truly grateful for what Lulu gave to Baby.
This Orphaned Baby Elephant’s Unlikely Friendship Will Melt Your Heart
No one knows for sure (there are theories) why this baby elephant was abandoned by its herd 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 to 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 they weren’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 rehabbing 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
Nothing is more important to the health of baby than milk. Filled with nutrients and fat, it gives growing babies everything the need to become strong and healthy. Shortly after the medical team began to care for Ellie, the elephant became intolerant to milk, creating a big problem.
At first, the team hoped Ellie was just rejecting the milk they had on site. They ordered milk from various locations, including Zimbabwe and Kenya, hoping it would make a difference. It didn’t. No matter what kind of milk the team tried, Ellie rejected it.
Coconut Oil Saves The Day
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… Who Would She 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 him and Duma was growing stronger everyday 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 him 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 Downturn
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 knowing 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 goodbye as well. We don’t know how Duma took the news, but we can imagine he was pretty down.
Duma didn’t lie 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 friend 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. 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. She 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!