One thing is certain about Wendi: She always knows how to make an entrance! On the morning of Sunday, 9th October, she strolled up to the Ithumba stockades with a newborn in tow. She was clearly bursting with pride and wanted her human-elephant family to join in the celebrations.
For the Keepers, this was a very special plot twist. Wendi had visited the stockades two nights prior, but she had not shown any indication that she was imminently due. Of course, knowing Wendi, we wouldn’t have expected anything less. She has kept us on our toes since the day we rescued her.
Wendi’s story began two decades ago. She was found abandoned in a swamp in September 2002, hours old and still petal pink behind the ears. We will never know how she came into the world alone, but it seems likely that her mother was disturbed during birth. Wendi emerged as one of the biggest characters to ever come into our care. We wondered if age and motherhood would put her on the straight and narrow, but she quickly banished this assumption. If anything, she is more mischievous than ever.
It was almost seven years ago to the day that Wendi introduced us to her firstborn, Wiva. Wendi was quite a wayward mother the first time around, but she had an excellent support system in the form of her ex-orphan girlfriends. In fact, she was more of a milk bar for Wiva, while her friends actually did most of the mothering.
While Wendi relied heavily on her girlfriends to raise Wiva, she took a more involved approach to her second-born. Wema, another girl, was born in November 2019. In keeping with tradition, Wendi strolled up to the stockades within hours of giving birth, eager to show off her newborn to the men who raised her. Over the past three years, we have seen her really embrace motherhood, raising both Wiva and Wema with a tender, diligent side that we haven’t seen until now.
And now, Wendi is a mother of three girls. Her newest addition, who we have called Wimbi, is a little beauty. Although she was born at the height of the drought, she is healthy, energetic, and plump. While Wiva has been a model big sister, Wema seems a little jealous of her family’s newest addition. We know she will embrace Wimbi in time, once she realises how fun it is to have a little sister to look after! As usual, Wendi is surrounded by a coterie of ex-orphan girlfriends, all of whom are taking on the supporting role of nanny. Makireti, Nasalot, Galana, Makena, Loijuk, Ishanga, and Lenana were all present for Wimbi’s big debut at Ithumba, and they have remained with the family since.
The birth of Wimbi brings us to 51 known babies born to orphans we rescued, raised, and reintegrated back into the wild. These tiny miracles are the greatest testament of success of our Orphans’ Project. For an orphan like Wendi, who never knew her own mother, there is an added layer of poignancy. To see her today, a mother of three, fills us with immense pride and joy.