The internet needs rescuing this week. Our country is wounded; our hearts hurt. But we can bring you a smile and a bit of lighthearted relief, courtesy of one baby whose innocence is gracing cyberspace with raw, unfiltered joy.
Cue: Baby elephant’s first-ever water hose spray-down session.
Give your heart permission to melt. Save these photos as the wallpaper on your phone. Send to a friend or family member who needs it. This is pure bliss.
Born one month ago on May 14 to mom Mlilo, this little guy is changing every day. During this unforgettable water session with mom, he plopped down on the ground, enamored of the spitting water he could collect on his tongue.
Another recent “first” is putting food items in his mouth, just like mom. His awkward trunk manages to scoop up lone leaves. But unlike mom, he hasn’t mastered the consumption part just yet. Everything right now is simply exploratory.
He enjoys investigating mom’s diet as she eats. He plants this body directly under Mlilo’s jaw, fixated by the smells and sounds of her munching. His attempts to maneuver his tiny trunk into her open mouth fail every time.
He’s also learning basic husbandry behaviors, like target training. These skills eventually will help him voluntarily present parts of his body to keepers during health checks. As an AZA-accredited, protected contact zoo, we don’t share the same space with certain animals without a barrier between us. That’s why positive reinforcement training is so crucial. It lets the animal act as naturally as possible, and keeps both staff and animals safe.
“The calf enjoys the tactile sensation of working with the target, which resembles a massive cotton swab,” said elephant Curator Karen Gibson. “Mlilo’s attentive and protective of her baby, but she trusts us when we work with him. And he’s very comfortable with us. It’s always his choice if he wants to participate.”
And just like a toddler, constant distractions consume this little boy’s world.
“He’s a wild little man who brings us so much joy,” Gibson said. “It’s fascinating to watch him grow daily. His poops look like perfect Hershey’s kisses. And he’s learned to use his trunk like a straw in the water trough to blow bubbles.”
With multiple naps a day, endless nursing bouts, and continuous play sessions, we’ll never tire of this ellie boy’s antics. And it’s our promise to you to never stop sharing the moments that capture the sunshine he exudes, especially in dark times when we all need it most.