Having observed the discomfort of two newly orphaned elephants struggling to sleep through the chill of an Indian night, Dr. Panjit Basumatary, a veterinarian at the WTI/IFAW, set out to find a way to bring relief to 3 month old Rupa and 11 month old Aashi.
Thinking that there had to be a better way for the Indian elephant calves (still obviously distressed from recent events) to rest, and attempting to make up for their “lack of maternal warmth and affection,” the vet came up with a design for a set of custom-made pajamas complete with foot coverings in the form of colorful socks and stylish (for an elephant!) black strapped over boots.
As baby elephants are particularly vulnerable to extremes in temperature, especially injured & distressed calves, Dr. Basumatary had “encouraged the keepers (at the Wildlife Trust of India) to wrap them up warmly in blankets and scarves” and by providing the ensemble (lasting roughly a fortnight) even the skeptics among the rescuers have noticed a remarkable improvement in little Rupa and Aashi’s emotional and physical health.
Not that a “concrete nursery,” reports Thomas Neal for The Daily Mail, at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) center could ever replicate the wilderness of the Kaziranga National Park where they were found.
But at the very least the “custom-made bedclothes” were bringing some comfort for the motherless calves. Lying side by side (in slumber) on mats spread out in the yellow and green nursery the baby elephants have certainly bonded and have definitely been “making good progress”. That alone speaks volumes for their future.
For not long ago little Rupa (meaning ‘beauty’) had suffered “a dislocated leg and deep wounds” after she had fallen, out of her mother’s reach, down a “steep rocky bank into a ravine”(soon afterward Dr. Basumatary fitted a cast onto her back leg). Little Aashi (‘joy and laughter in Hindu’) had fallen into a trench and though an attempt to reunite her with her elephant herd was unsuccessful she has, nevertheless, found a caring family (although in human form).
So until they can be released in a couple of year’s time you will find these two little elephants following a nightly routine. Before lights out at bedtime both Rupa and Aashi patiently line up to be wrapped in their jammies. Then with aplomb, each elephant foot is presented for a colorful sock, followed by a stylish (black) elephant over boot to be strapped on!
You just can’t get any cozier than that, at least until the day when orphans Rupa and Aashi can, hopefully, rejoin their elephant families. But they will never forget all of that snuggly goodness at the Wildlife Trust of India, and Dr. Panjit Basumatary and their rescuers / keepers.
This can only serve to remind us that compassionate humans, especially those showing compassion for our elephants, will always make a grand difference in our world.
Photo credit: The Daily Mail / Roger Allen
See video (also more photos) of Rupa and Aashi, the baby elephants getting their jammies, sleep socks, and black over boots put on at The Daily Mail
Make donations to the Wildlife Trust of India WTI / IFAW here