To be honest, the death of Elephant Orphan Dida came as no surprise to us, but nevertheless that does not change the fact that it was still the loss of a loved and treasured Elephant, rescued from a manhole on the main Mzima Mombasa Pipeline in September 2007, at the age of just 1 month. Having been with us for five years, carefully and lovingly nurtured every day of her life, we all knew, and loved her unconditionally, so her death has been particularly painful for all of us, and especially her orphan peers and her dedicated team of Keepers.
Elephants are human animals; their emotional makeup identical to our own, their caring and compassion probably surpassing that of humans. They mourn the loss of a love one just as deeply as we do, so it is not difficult to regard and love the orphans as one would ones own child.
Dida thrived during her Nursery Years, and apart from being somewhat smaller than others of her age, appeared perfectly healthy. She was happy and playful, but as she grew older in age having been moved to the Voi Rehabilitation facility on the 11th May 2010, she never grew physically as she should, and there were ominous signs that all was not well. As a five year old, she was so small that she could have been mistaken for the calf of one of the larger Voi Orphans.It became quite obvious that something was very wrong with Dida, and that became more profound over time. We were concerned it was an absorption problem, so we returned her to the formula on which newborns thrive, but which is rather too expensive for the older Elephants, bearing in mind that Elephants are milk dependent for the first three years of life. For a time this seemed to suit Dida better, and she felt sufficiently well to venture into the noon mudbath along with the others, and to being able to keep pace with them out in the bush, always accompanied by either Ndi or Kenia, hers special elephant friends, who recognized her frailty and watched over her diligently to ensure that the boisterous and exuberant little bulls did not playfully barge or push her. However the signs were that Dida's problem was with a vital organ, we thought possibly heart or lungs.