Do Animals Have Feelings? This Baby Elephant Cried for 5 Hours after His Mother Rejected Him

The animal world has its own uniqueness and specifics, but in many ways is very similar to humans. Animals also develop a strong maternal bond, protecting their young ones at any cost, providing them food and all the love and cuddle they can offer.

You may wonder if animals have feelings, and up to now through so many examples we have been ensured of this fact. Although there are some skeptics who do not believe in the existence of animal emotion, yet a large number of people believe the opposite. The latter one say that animals can show a wide spectrum of feelings, such as curiosity, grief, fear, happiness, sadness, empathy, anger, and anxiety. But, one thing is for sure the existence of the maternal love.

Nevertheless, this maternal bond in some rare cases is not being developed and that is the worst thing that can happen to a baby, no matter if it is a human or animal. This happened to the baby elephant Zhuang Zhuang that was born in 2013 when his mother rejected him immediately after birth. She even tried to hurt him by stamping him, but thanks to the interference of the staff at the Shendiashan Wild Animal Natural Reserve in China he was saved.

Still, the staff considered this event one-time incident and tried to reconnect both the baby and the mother again. Sadly, Zhuang Zhuang was rejected once again and was completely removed from his mother as she even tried to attack him.

The reaction of the baby elephant was so overwhelming showing deep sadness for his mother’s rejection. He literally cried for 5 hours, although the keepers tried really hard to console him.

One of his keepers stated the following:

The calf was very upset and he was crying for five hours before he could be consoled. He couldn’t bear to be parted from his mother and it was his mother who was trying to kill him.”

Zhuang Zhuang was crying relentlessly for 5 hours with his tears streaming from his red eyes and down his face. In the end his keeper comforted him and the baby calf accepted its destiny.

Elephants need stable, comfortable surroundings in order to grow healthy. Rejection at birth may cause severe psychological distress. This animal needs company and intimacy.

According to the renowned environmental writer, Carl Safina, animals have the ability to display empathy, and in the case of elephants it is very common.

He explains:

Watching animals my whole life I’ve always been struck by how similar to us they are. I’ve always been touched by their bonds and been impressed—occasionally frightened—by their emotions.

Life is very vivid to animals. In many cases, they know who they are. They know who their friends are and who their rivals are. They have ambitions for higher status. They compete. Their lives follow the arc of a career like ours do.

We both try to stay alive, get food and shelter, and raise some young for the next generation. Animals are no different from us in that regard and I think that their presence here on Earth is tremendously enriching.”

Family relations are very strong in elephants, except in such rare cases like the one of Zhuang Zhuang baby. Elephants are with longest gestation period, lasting for 22 months. Calves are born blind, and that makes them extremely dependent on their mothers. The world of the elephants is matriarchal society where other females help a calf to get on its feet after birth. 

Elephants show grief after the loss of a loved one, and they mourn the dead by touching the bones or circling the body.

In the case of Zhuang Zhuang the love of its keeper saved him and he is now living a happy life. He was adopted by his keeper and now he enjoys every minute of his life.