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days old, she was hungry and dehydrated and had walked a long way--about thirty miles--before showing up in Francoise Malby-Anthony's home at the Thula Thula Private Game Reserve in Zululand, South Africa. See the full article and adorable photo in this article from The Telegraph.
After hanging around for a snack, the calf, called Tom by the ranch hand who found her, was reunited with her herd. Of course they were thrilled to see her, especially her mother, who'd been rescued by Francoise's husband Lawrence Anthony years ago.
That's not even the most interesting part--I knew I recognized Lawrence Anthony's name, so I did a search to find out why it was so familiar. There was a story I had in mind but had thought, "No way, that would be too weird." Yet there it was, the elephant "funeral procession" after Anthony's death in 2009.
work with wild elephants in South Africa. After he died, two herds of elephants he'd worked with made an estimated twelve-hour journey to his house. They stayed around there for a couple of days before heading back to the wild. Before this event, these elephants hadn't been to the property for at least a year and a half.
There are plenty of examples of elephants mourning their dead, not only at the time the death occurs but when they come across bones of a former herd member. Making the long trek to pay respects after the passing of a human friend is even more fascinating. I mean, HOW IN THE WORLD DID THEY KNOW???
In answering that question, Rabbi Leila Gal Berner said, “A good man died suddenly, and from miles and miles away, two herds of elephants, sensing that they had lost a beloved human friend, moved in a solemn, almost ‘funereal’ procession to make a call on the bereaved family at the deceased man’s home. If there ever were a time, when we can truly sense the wondrous ‘interconnectedness of all beings,’ it is when we reflect on the elephants of Thula Thula. A man’s heart’s stops, and hundreds of elephants’ hearts are grieving. This man’s oh-so-abundantly loving heart offered healing to these elephants, and now, they came to pay loving homage to their friend.”
And somehow one of their babies knew where to go when she needed help.