This is another of our favorite elephant stories. This is the story about Eleanor, the elephant. It is also a story of Daphne. And furthermore, it is Natalie Kidd’s story.
Natalie contacted Elephant Gin in hopes that we could name a batch after a special elephant called Eleanor, whose name not only appears on our bottles now, but also inspired her sister’s name. In fact, Natalie’s parents had stumbled across a documentary about Dame Daphne Sheldrick, the infamous Tsavo orphanage and the elephant called Eleanor.
In 1961, Daphne took in the orphaned Eleanor after her mother was killed by poachers in Samburu. Despite having witnessed poachers kill her own mother, Eleanor grew to trust and love Daphne and her husband and despite her great size, she was gentle and affectionate.
Eleanor’s story is special because she organically assumed a matriarchal role at the orphanage and adopted young, orphaned elephants as her own. She assisted with the capture of two elephant poachers and helped to protect and release 116 elephants safely back into the wild! Eleanor cared for the orphaned calves as though they were her own. It was Eleanor who would raise and protect the orphans and then lead them to their new habitat in the wild. She eventually returned to the wild in the early 1990s to raise a baby of her own.
Eleanor is still able to recognise her adopted calves as well as the humans who had assisted her – enveloping them with her trunk.
So it really is true — an elephant never forgets.
Thank you Natalie for sharing this story with us.
Photograph courtesy the The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust