Baby Elephant Cries After Being Rejected By Mother

    September 13, 2013
    Tobias Roth
    Comments are off for this post.

A baby elephant was recently attacked and abandoned by his own mother at a zoo in China, causing him to cry for hours. Who knew that was even possible? No one is able to tell why, but it appears that the mother was trying to kill her baby, and the zookeepers were forced to keep it away from its mother.

In this case, it is good that the elephants were in the safety of a zoo, because if they were in the wild, who knows what would have happened to the baby elephant. Several pictures were taken showing tears streaming down from his eyes and down his face.

The elephant’s name is Little Zhuangzhuang and he seems to be doing much better now. It was originally thought that what the mother did was an accident, which would be the hope if something like this happens shortly after a baby’s birth. They were unfortunately wrong and figured out this sad fact after cleaning up Little Zhuangzhuang and treating his injuries, before returning him to his mother. She was having none of this, and continued to stomp on him, injuring the elephant further, says the NY Daily News. The mother refused to comfort her baby in a surprising act, which is scary to see. The keepers were forced to step in once more and permanently remove the baby from his mother.

There were a number of pictures taken of the elephant as it continued to cry, after being abused by its mother. He was stepped on just after being born at the Shendiaoshan Wild Animal Nature Reserve in Rongcheng, China. He was recently adopted by an employee of the nature reserve and is doing better now.

The University of California, Santa Barbara has been studying the question of whether elephants can actually cry and that it seems to depend on what definition we are using for crying. The main part of their finding involves whether or not elephants are able to express emotions and with this instance especially, it appears that they can. According to The Huffington Post, elephants are able to express joy when playing and greeting others by trumpeting and flapping their ears. They have also been known to mourn the dead by touching the bones or circling the body.


What a tragedy, let’s hope something like this does not happen again.

Image via Youtube

  • william

    so sas

  • JCL

    Recent studies done with the same techniques used to determine whether or not human infants have reached a stage of being conscious of themselves as individual entities, separate from the rest of the environment, showed that there are also a number of animals that demonstrate this level of consciousness. Among these are elephants and whales. So not really terribly surprising to find that a baby elephant would express emotion in this situation.

    It’s probably way too much of a leap to equate the mother’s behavior with that of human mothers suffering from post-partum psychosis who kill their children, but this particular situation does make one wonder…

    • bob

      That is the first thing I thought of too – post-partum psychosis. It’s not too far a stretch – elephants are mammals, too – and are known to become emotional tied to their caregiver people, especially when babies. When the primary caregiver does not return, baby elephants go into mourning and often fail to thrive.
      I wish I could raise that darling little baby – poor dear. I thought humans were the only ones so cruel, but a mother elephant rejecting her calf has also been recorded in the jungle as well.
      Well – at least the calf is happier now, and well taken care of. Hopefully loved. Poor thing. The tear stained face is what did me in.

      • randolph jay

        For all the other reasons I agree. The chances are that this mother indeed did suffer post-partum psychosis. Those chances multiply a hundred-fold considering captive elephants, particularly ones with no room to move around, have already gone insane and had their entire spirit broken due to the stress of captivity.

      • Patrice

        most of the time, the rejected babies are “adopted” by other females in the group and do quite well

  • carolyn deckler

    Did they examine the baby to see if it is healthy? Often in the wild a mother will kill and animal that has health issues? Has this elephant had other young? All these questions need to be answered to make the article complete. It was terrible sad to hear the elephant but I really would like to know the rest of the story.

  • ron

    I’m so sorry those wee real tears coming from the baby lets see the mother tried to stomp her new born twice totally rejecting him . Poor BABY he was just born when we see him with the zoo people he is drinking his milk and pumping his trunk equivalent to a doggy wagging his tail. Lets hope this has a happy outcome

  • George Noble

    I wonder whether the mother elephant’s dislike of living in captivity may have influenced her attempt to kill her new baby.

    • randolph jay

      Excellent point on that. Could be the mother doesn’t want the baby to have to live like she did in captivity. I had not even thought of that. In any event, I can’t think of anything more gut-wrenching sad than these pics. And if any circus elephant trainers see this and not be moved, they are barbaric heartless monsters who should be yanked off the face of the earth.

      • Patrice

        I agree with George. There was a story about a captive female bear (one of thousands, btw) in China that lived in a tiny cage on a bile farm for many years. It committed suicide after killing it’s cub and very likely for the same reason George mentioned. These poor animals go crazy, which makes them do things out of desperation thanks to the humans who exploit them, abuse them and eventually kill them. It’s so sad to see this little baby cry, but perhaps if they were left alone in the wild where they belong, these things wouldn’t happen.

        • JAH

          If you think this doesn’t happen in the wild, you’re delusional. Who knows why she rejected it? Animals do this all the time. I doubt it was because she lives in a zoo. You’re comparing a zoo to a bile farm? Please.

          • DSM

            In the wild they get prepared for the birth by seeing how it happens in the herd. All female elephants produce milk if a baby elephant is born to the herd and everyone protects it. That’s what i’ve observed in asian elephants. And this is the first time i’ve heard of a mother rejecting it’s baby among them. And of course they do cry.

  • http://yahoo Leslie Bartley

    Animals DO have feelings, no doubt about it. May he forget his terrible beginning and live a life surrounded by love.

  • Carrieann

    George Noble — I wondered the same thing — if captivity has something to do with it. This is such a sad story — poor little guy! I hope he is showered with love and attention by the caretakers and other elephants!

  • shad

    What was the mother’s name, Joan Crawford?

  • Sierra

    Who would have thought that eyes produce tears….really? (Yes that is sarcasm)Besides that… I don’t know anyone who doesn’t cry after being rejected and getting an ass whooping,This is called normal be it a human, a dog or an elephant. We really try to make animals into people?… oh she had a psychotic break oh no call a social worker good grief people its Nature maybe she didn’t like man deciding when she got pregnant and who she got pregnant by? Maybe she never wanted kids because she had dreams of going to the circus since childhood maybe she realized she was a lesbian… really? lol its the animal kingdom they do just fine without our input.

    • Joe Stevenson

      shut up

  • Lenore

    Has anyone given any consideration to the idea that perhaps there is something wrong with the baby. Often in the wild, and elephant, for example, will abandon the baby after they are born because they instinctively know that all is not well.

  • lashaunda

    Again and Again you can not force pregnancy on a female and expect her to be a mother. I doubt this female elephant had consensual sex, most likely she was implanted and forced to bare that little guy for all those months. In the wild when she was READY, she would have chosen a mate and therefore most likely would have cared for her child, because it would have been her choice. Elephants have exhibit repeatedly their higher intelligence and emotions, so it bothers me to hear zookeepers and scientist pretend not to know anything all so they can continue to poke rods at this defenseless female and now her bastard offspring.

  • j

    I guess Tom Cruise will think elephants don’t expierence PPD. too!!!

  • Michael S.

    Poor little fella. Got his butt kicked then rejected by a mother who never wanted him in the first place. I guess he’ll grow up to butcher the English language, wear his pants low, drop out of elephant school, refuse to get a job, carry a gun, smoke crack, rob liquor stores. And all the time getting free food, section 8 housing and free medical. And then blame all his misfortune on the very zoo keeper that took care of him. Hey wait just a minute, This has an all too familiar ring to it. DEJA VU !

    • http://webpronews Pam E

      Or maybe he will end up driving around in a pickup truck that is 20 feet off the ground after picking up his girlfriend from Walmart to smoke meth, live in a trailor park, and eat road kill for dinner.

    • Sue


      I was rejected by my birth mother. Given up for adoption. I searched, found her and was rejected again. I’m not a criminal and I am not a bad person. Sadly, I can relate to this Baby elephant. Your sarcastic comments are harsh and hurtful.

  • http://www.bowsbymaude.com maude

    That is absolutely heartbreaking. The mother sounds like the Susan Smith of elephants…

  • indrul1

    The obituary mom from yahoo has been reincarnated as an elephant!

  • Erin

    “n this case, it is good that the elephants were in the safety of a zoo, because if they were in the wild, who knows what would have happened to the baby elephant.”

    You have got to be kidding me. Does this author know a darn thing about elephants? Infanticide is extrememly rare in the wild, and an unfortunate occurance among captive elephants.


    “causing him to cry for hours. Who knew that was even possible?”
    How arrogant and ignorant. Yes, who knew other animals besides humans could possess emotions? How could these lowly animals possibly possess highly complex things like emotions, clearly only us amazing humans could possibly possess emotions.

    “According to Huffpost…”
    End it there. Clearly this author knows ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about elephants. He has to site Huffpost!! bwahahaha. Come now, don’t site Huffpost. Do your own work, mate.

    Author, do yourself a favor and educate yourself on elephants. Their behaviors, their emotions, how intelligent they are, their family units, and how horrible it is to keep them in captivity.

    Here are a few great articles for you, so you don’t have to site Huffpost anymore. Do your own research, yeah?

    Long running research team in Africa, with a wealth of information about elephant habits and behaviours http://www.elephantvoices.org/

    Great article on elephant emotions, by the esteemed Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, who runs an elephant orphanage in Kenya and is dedicated to elephant conservation http://www.dswtwildernessjournal.com/elephant-emotions-by-dr-dame-daphne-sheldrick/

    Elephants are fascinating species and you will enjoy what you learn about them. It will break your heart what is happening to them.

    If you want to join the fight, there’s going to be an International March for Elephants on Oct. 4th in 20+ cities worldwide. Find a march near you at http://iworry.org/

  • Erin

    It’s also very disturbing that the entire situation surrounding these elephants was not highlighted in this article.

    This reserve in China is not kind to its elephants. This mother was raised in captivity, alone. That means she has no one to teach her how to raise a baby. No mother, no sisters, no aunties, no family group that elelphants rely on to pass on information. This is her first baby. New mothers can be inexperienced, and they rely on family to help them. She was raised alone, which contributed to her aggressive mental state (she’s going crazy being alone).

    Captive elephants have much higher rates of infanticide than wild elephants, where it is very rare.

    We all need to realize that this is our fault, in the end. We need to be much kinder to our animals, particularly elephants, who are very emotional creatures, and if we have them in captivity, it needs to be humane. Elephants need herds, to put them in solitary confiment results in terrible situations like this one.

    They’re all going extinct, in 10 years. If you would like to find out how you can help save the elephants, there are many ways. Even Prince William and Kate are on board. Let’s all raise our trunks to save these beautiful animals and make sure that situations like this one are rare.

    check out http://www.iworry.org on how you can help save these wonderful creatures.

    • owwww

      Considering this is her 3rd calf your argument doesn’t stand. It is truly sad and perhaps she was unduly stressed or felt the calf wasn’t “normal”. It is common for an off-spring to be killed by a mother if the infant is either diseased or “less than normal” by many species.

  • Pam

    No doubt living in a zoo would drive any animal nuts, but whether or not it’s what influenced the attack is just something we don’t know. Many animals kill their young as a way of furthering the “fittest” offspring, or when conditions aren’t right for rearing them. I’d be curious to know how often elephants attempt to kill their young while in captivity, vs. in the wild.

    • Chris

      That just made me cry. Baby cries for hours cuz Mommy didnt want him. I am glad he is doing better now though. I hope they will be able to find another female who would be willing to adopt him

  • Ella Snow

    Elephants in the wild don’t kill their newborns. They live in highly complex social groups and another elephant acts as the midwife to help the mama elephant give birth, and the baby is raised by the whole herd. This poor elephant is very unhappy to live in a zoo and was never taught by the others, as she should have been, to care for newborn elephants. The zoo is not the place for elephants. Sanctuaries are better places, since they are being poached to extinction in the wild, but never zoos.