Chemi Chemi: Dr. Sheldrick Foundation Birthday Surprise

All year Dave and I have been on a rather single-minded campaign to raise money so we could adopt/foster an elephant for my sister’s family. All year I have warned anyone who is still around to listen – no prezzies, no anything for anybody not even kids. Mean auntie. All present money was put in our ‘elephant collection’ jar along with money raised from recycling bottles, extra birthday money and money raised from selling things. When my sister recently told me she had found a gift for me I looked at her steely eyed – ‘I SAID NO GIFTS – ELEPHANT MONEY ONLY). “Too late” she said equally steely eyed.

photoSo when they arrived the other night for dinner and deposited the gift bag in front of me I announced I would open it tomorrow. “No auntie T, OPEN IT NOW.” said the girls. So I did. And I saw the awesome homemade card that I usually get and treasure. This one had a beautiful baby elephant on it. “Awwwww – he’s so cute.” and I flipped over to the other side where I saw the letters “Chemi Chemi” which means spring.

photo-1“What a great card.” I said – “But it’s more than a card auntie T”. More than a card. Slow realization. They had adopted an elephant in my name. I have been so single-minded in my determination to foster an elephant for the girls that it never occurred to me that they could do the same for me. Wow, and here he is.

So why do I want to do this so badly and why elephants? I want to do it because it started with the simple fact that I’m not a great gift giver and when I buy things I always feel like it’s a big waste of money.

And I don’t want to waste money. And increasingly I don’t want to waste time. And like Bill Maher, my deep empathy lies with animals. And within that empathy lies the harsh reality that animals are entirely unprotected and live at the whim of people. I hate that.

As I get older I feel myself becoming increasingly more focussed on things that I feel need to get done. To use what I have to make a difference. That’s what I want to do. I’m aware that all wildlife is under attack – gorillas, tigers, lions, bears, polar bears, wolves, whales, dolphins, tuna, rhinos, dogs, cats. But I can’t do it all. So I need to focus. So I’ve focussed on elephants. Gentle, intelligent, social animals that are being hunted to extinction.

So baby steps. There are a lot of organizations that are doing a lot of great things to develop awareness and protection for animals. There’s a whole community of amazing people doing great work. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is dedicated to the protection of endangered species – rhinos and elephants.By adopting an elephant and by having an elephant adopted for me I want to help tell their story.

2272010832-pic7So here he is: Chemi Chemi – found at 8 months entirely on his own. He was monitored for half a day and then it was decided that he would be rescued. He was brought to the lodge given water and an attendant for the night. The attendant fed him and spoke soothingly and the little calf settled down. The rescue plane came and took him the next day at dawn. Three Keepers and rescue paraphanalia helped ensure a smooth trip for the little guy. He arrived at the Nursery where he was allowed to meet the 19 other orphaned babies who embraced him immediately. He took to the milk bottle immediately and was taken under the protective wing of Olare the recognized matriach. And that’s the story of how Chemi Chemi was rescued. He was found alone because his family was the victim of poaching, and considering what he had gone through, according to his keepers and attendants, he is doing amazingly well.

You can find out about the fostering program right here.

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