Elephants Gather Around To Watch Their Newest Family Member Arrive
She came to the sanctuary an orphan, just 3 years old and in no shape to be in the wilds of southern Kenya on her own.
Years after Emily the elephant first ventured out into the world, she returned to the famed David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Orphans' Project.
And she was pregnant.
Then, at the very doorstep of her former orphanage, a rare and remarkable scene unfolded.
Rare, because the overwhelming majority of elephant births take place at night and this was broad daylight. And, remarkable, because this stirring scene speaks the universal language of joy.
Emily gave birth in spectacular fashion.
"It was filled with trumpets and rumbles of joy from Emily's own herd of ex-orphaned elephant friends who had accompanied her back, all of whom were eager to carefully help the new precious bundle to its feet, nudging it gently, and using their trunks to lift the baby," Angela Sheldrick recounted in a post on the foundation's website.
Why did she return to her earliest home to give birth? Perhaps because of her own experience as a youngster, hand-reared by her human guardians, the foundation notes.
"Emily knew that in their company she and her calf would remain safe from predators and because elephants never forget she will always love and trust the keepers who have played such an important role in saving her life. Never could there be more tangible proof than her willingness to share her precious wild born babies with them, even allowing them to witness the birth of little 'Emma'."
Yes, the newborn elephant's name is Emma. And she's needed desperately. In the early 20th century, according to the World Wildlife Fund, the elephant population in Africa may have reached five million. Today, an estimated 470,000 remain.
Dramatic shrinkage of habitat, as well as the persistent threat of poaching, have brought this once commanding creature to its knees.
Which is why, more than ever, Emma will need her mother's mighty genes.
For more inspiring elephant births, check this out.