Man Still Remembers The Day He Helped Save This Elephant's Life

Shukuru was so small when her life was saved that Jiba Galgalo Guyo was able to carry her in his arms.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Shukuru was rescued back in September of 2009, but Guyo, who is a keeper at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) in Kenya, still remembers the day.

The baby elephant had fallen down a manhole along a pipeline and lost her herd. She was only 3 days old.

Rescuers named her Shukuru, the Swahili word for "I am grateful." The tiny elephant was rushed to the nursery at the DSWT, where Guyo and other keepers spent years caring for her.

When, in 2013, Shukuru graduated to the Reintegration Center (where these young rescued elephants begin to learn their independence so that they might eventually be released back into the wild), the man who could once hold her in his arms was there. Guyo stayed with her there for two years.

Today, Shukuru is getting ready to be released into the wild. "Since 2013, Shukuru has spent each day in the company of the older orphans, learning the ropes and meeting wild elephants and ex-orphans who are now living wild," Amie Alden, of the DSWT, told The Dodo. "But her journey back to the wild isn't over yet; she'll remain in our care for the next few years until she feels confident to take her first steps into a life in the wild. Often it begins with a night's sleepover in the bush, which over time becomes longer and more frequent."

As for Guyo? Since he got the job (he applied after a friend who was working at the DSWT encouraged him), he's been hooked on dedicating his life to elephants in need.

Alden asked him what he likes best about the job: His answer was, of course, the elephants, "and being with them especially when they are in a playful mood."

What does he love best about elephants? "Their ability to live among people when they are treated properly and with respect."

Thanks to people like him, they are.

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