The third chapter in our series following the remarkable story of Barsilinga, the rescued orphan elephant who remains an inspiration for LOVE BRAND & Co.’s founders Oliver & Rose Tomalin.
This chapter looks at Barsilinga and fellow friend Kithaka’s teething troubles and how they were nursed back to health at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
As with humans, teething for baby elephants is a big part of their development. The process usually begins between one and three months when they cut their first molars and it is an incredibly fraught time. During a baby elephant’s teething phase, their stomachs are often in disarray and they typically lose body condition. Helping orphan infants through this difficult period is often an uphill battle, even for the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, with decades of experience in hand-raising orphan elephants.
Barsilinga was just three weeks old when he became an orphan. His best friend, Kithaka was little more than a week old when he was rescued and so the pair faced the challenges of teething together, back in 2012. While Barsilinga suffered a poorly tummy, tiny Kithaka seemed not to grow! Following a visit from an elephant veterinary specialist, blood samples were taken and analysed and the two little orphans received intensive care, with pancreatic enzyme supplements in their milk and several intravenous drip sessions for Barsilinga, to boost their strength and aid their recovery.
Throughout all of this, both babies remained hooked on their milk bottles and on their special feeding blanket, which was hung to mimic the feeling of feeding beneath their mothers, allowing them to comfortably rest their little trunks as they drank their milk.
With Barsilinga and Kithaka returning to good health and gaining weight, both were soon back to their favourite tricks, splashing about in the mud and even feeling energetic enough to make a game with a football – Kithaka’s preference being to butt the ball with his head instead of kicking it with his feet!
Teething was the first of many milestones these two orphans would reach together, developing a firm friendship which still exists today and will likely last a lifetime.
Please visit the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to discover more about their wide-ranging projects.
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF SHELDRICK WILDLIFE TRUST