Doldol is a tiny elephant who has defied the greatest odds. As we mark her 18-month rescueversary, we have created a special video to celebrate our miniature miracle.
When Doldol arrived in our care, we couldn't believe our eyes: She was the tiniest orphan we had ever rescued, impossibly small and almost certainly born premature. Her mother must have been disturbed during birth and took off, leaving her newborn baby behind.
Doldol was orphaned on 23rd November 2021. She was found in Dol Dol, a town on the edge of the northern frontier of the Laikipia Plateau. This part of Kenya gets freezing cold at night, buffeted by gusts of alpine air that swoop down from Mount Kenya. It is a daunting environment for a calf just hours out of the womb. Fortunately, a kind man from the community took custody of her for the night, keeping her warm and protected in his boma. The following morning, she was whisked down to our Kaluku Neonate Nursery, which is tailored for our most vulnerable rescues.
Raising any orphaned elephant is complex, but a premature newborn presents a formidable challenge. We selected Mishak, one of our most gifted Keepers, to lead Doldol duty. With more than three decades of experience, Mishak has raised some of our most tricky orphan cases and is the unanimous favourite of any elephant he meets.
Doldol was no different. She became his little shadow, never letting him out of her sight. Initially, this even extended into the nighttime hours: After putting her to bed, Mishak tried to retire to the bunk bed perched above her stable. However, with a series of irate trumpets, Doldol made it clear that she wouldn’t accept him sleeping anywhere but by her side, so Mishak was forced to drag his bedroll down to ground level. Fortunately, she grew out of this after a few months!
Today, Doldol’s Keeper family has expanded to also include Peter and Jonas, two gifted new recruits. Her orphan herd has also gotten bigger, with the addition of two new neonate rescues. Because she was an ‘only child’ for so long, we worried how Doldol would respond to her new siblings. She surprised us all by understanding the situation and warmly welcoming the newcomers. In fact, she seems to enjoy the opportunity to play queen bee. She leads her mini herd around with great purpose, tiny trunk aloft and heart-shaped ears held wide.
Doldol is still our miniature elephant, but she is getting bigger, bit by bit. She may always be on the petite side, but it is relieving to know that she won’t be teeny tiny forever! Shortly after she arrived, we started calling Doldol our ‘little beetle,’ and the name still fits: she is small and round, with protuberant eyes and heart-shaped ears that are constantly flapping like wings. Even her demeanour is like an insect; she buzzes around with great purpose, always busy and investigating.
It is an honour to be part of an elephant’s journey from the very, very beginning. Abandoned just as she was born, Doldol defied the odds simply by surviving. Now, this miniature miracle has her entire future ahead of her.