How a Nature Reserve Keeper Transformed a Baby Elephant’s Life

In a moving story of love and resilience, a three-month-old orphaned pygmy elephant named Joe finds a new family after tragically losing his mother to mysterious poisoning in the tropical rainforest of Malaysia.

Joe was visibly distressed as he nuzzled his lifeless mother in a desperate attempt to revive her

The baby elephant’s distress was so visible that it moved wildlife officials to tears, and his struggle to survive has inspired a heartwarming bond between him and his new caretaker.

Joe's mother is one of 14 known elephants to have died and investigations are still being carried out to discover what wiped them out and whether it was deliberate or accidental

After the heartbreaking incident, Joe was taken to a nature reserve for around-the-clock care. Initially, experts feared he could die of a broken heart or from ingesting poison through his mother’s milk. However, Joe’s life took a hopeful turn when he was introduced to Augustin David, a 29-year-old nature reserve keeper.

Joe's new keeper Augustin seems to be enjoying it, but the elephant isn't so keen. Augustin said of the elephant that he 'has clear likes and dislikes'

In an incredible display of connection and trust between man and beast, Augustin became Joe’s surrogate parent, providing the love, attention, and care the young elephant desperately needed. Like any parent, Augustin faces a grueling schedule that requires feeding Joe every two hours with a special formula milk catered to his nutritional needs.

Feeding: Keepers have found a special formula of milk which caters to Joe's nutritional needs

Joe’s new life at Lok Kawi Zoo near Kota Kinabalu includes playtime with Augustin, who runs the baby elephant around the compound—a activity Joe loves. While he isn’t fond of showers, he does enjoy receiving attention and affection from his surrogate parent.

Bond: The keeper and the inmate have formed an unusually close relationship at the wildlife centre

Dr. Diana Ramirez, the veterinarian overseeing Joe’s recovery, explains that he is not out of the woods yet, as baby elephants are prone to colic, which can be fatal very quickly. However, Joe’s strong will to survive and the bond he shares with Augustin give hope that he will pull through.

Friendly: So far, Joe seems to be adapting fairly well to life among humans after his mother's death

Investigations are ongoing to determine the cause of the poisonings that led to the deaths of 14 adult elephants in Malaysia. It has been suggested that palm oil plantation workers may have been responsible for the tragic incident, as the elephants could have consumed toxic substances laid out to protect the highly lucrative crop from pests.

Danger: But it is too soon to say for sure that the fun-loving elephant will survive his ordeal

Borneo pygmy elephants are an endangered species, with about two-thirds of their dwindling population found in Malaysia. If Joe survives, he is likely to remain at the 280-acre park for the rest of his life, as rescued elephants often struggle to adapt to life in the wild. Fortunately, he will have plenty of company, as the reserve’s 16 other injured and orphaned elephants are waiting to be introduced to their newest family member.

Chilling out: The elephant stretches in his new home as Augustin looks on at his protegé

This heartwarming story of Joe’s survival and the love of his surrogate parent, Augustin, serves as a reminder of the importance of wildlife conservation and the protection of endangered species. By supporting ethical wildlife sanctuaries and raising awareness about the threats facing these majestic creatures, we can contribute to the preservation of their habitats and the heartwarming relationships that can form between humans and animals.

Like any parent, Augustin faces a gruelling schedule that requires feeding Joe every two hours, all through the night, with a particular mix of formula milk that the infant has a taste for

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