Without a mother in the world, the orphaned baby elephants are wrapped in blankets by their caretakers to replace their mother to survive the winter.

Without a mother in the world, the orphaned baby elephants are wrapped in blankets by their caretakers to replace their mother to survive the winter.

If you’re feeling the big chill that’s descended on much of the Northern hemisphere, then you’re probably wrapped up nice and warm with a big blanket.

But whilst a winter blanket might be everyone’s latest seasonal obsession (and something of a fashion statement), at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Elephant Orphanage in Kenya, the colorful array of blankets modelled by the residents have an entirely different purpose.

In the cold mornings in Nairobi National Park and without their mother and protective herd by their side, these young orphaned elephants are vulnerable to nature’s elements. These multi-colored coats are their secret weapon for survival.

At their young age, the elephants need full time protection, not just from poachers and predators, but from the wind, rain, cold and hot sun during the heat of the day. This is exactly what the blankets provide. Highly susceptible to pneumonia, without the protection of their fluffy blankets, the cold could claim the lives of many orphaned elephants.

These unwittingly fashionable elephants even have their own tailor-made raincoat blankets too, and when the heavens open, elephant Keepers have waterproofs and umbrellas at hand.

As well as providing protection and warmth for the young elephants, blankets play another crucial role. Bottle feeding a baby elephant is not quite as easy as you may think as they rely on their mother for reassurance and a place to rest their trunk while feeding. But this habit has been recreated thanks to some larger blankets. Hung up in the stockades or out in forest, the blankets may not appear to be fooling anyone but the orphans are reassured by this stand-in mother, and those hesitant to accept milk can be comforted.

The young elephants will eventually be weaned off their blankets, ready to start their journey to the wild. This happens when the elephants reach between 12 and 18-months old. But whilst they are young, there needs to be plenty of blankets to go around.

It is only thanks to supporters and donations that we were able to keep our elephants ahead of the fashion curve and dressed in this latest trend. If you would like to help provide these lifesaving blankets for the orphans you can donate through the website

 

 

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