A photo of an elephant meeting with her daughter at a zoo in Germany after being separated from her for the past 12 years has struck a chord with people worldwide. The photo, that shows the two elephants with their trunks touching each other through separate enclosures, was widely share on social media.
The family reunion took place when 39-year-old female elephant Pori was moved to Germany’s Halle mountain zoo where her 19-year-old daughter Tana is housed with her calves Tamika (4 years) and Elani (1 year). The four elephants were reportedly very intrigued by each other when they met for the first time.
“Tana, Tamika and Elani welcomed mother and grandmother Pori through a partition today, the first touching was curious and very friendly,” the zoo wrote on its official Facebook page while sharing the photos.
According to the zoo, Pori was born in born in the wild in Zimbabwe in 1981. She was transported to Germany in 1983, where she first was housed in the Magdeburg Zoo and then briefly at the Leipzig Zoo. Finally, she was sent to the Tierpark Berlin Zoo to breed and gave birth to her first calf Tana in 2001.
After staying separately for the first few days, the older elephant was allowed into the pen with its daughter and two calves. The zoo released some photos and a video to capturing the reunion that moved many people across the world.
“Pori’s arrival in Halle is an important step in modern elephant husbandry”, said the zoo’s director Dr. Dennis Müller.
“In the future, all elephant herds in European zoos should be cared for in such natural family structures. We got a big step closer to this goal today,” Dr Muller was quoted as saying on the zoo’s website.
In the wild, elephants always live together in family groups, each led by a lead cow. Daughters tend to stay with their mothers for life, while young bulls leave the herd as soon as they are sexually mature, the German zoo explained on their website.
“After the two parties briefly faced each other, they communicated with each other using the sounds typical of elephants and reminiscent of thunder rolls,” the zoo wrote about the reunion.
Although the young mother was initially alert and watched how the older elephant reacted towards the calves, the zookeepers noticed she relaxed later.
“It didn’t take long for the youngest sprout Elani to bravely stand under Pori’s belly and even try to drink under her grandma’s eye,” the zoo wrote.
This reunion comes soon a similar reunion was engineered between three African elephants that were living in captivity.
The elephant population in zoos is monitored as part of a conservation breeding program, within which experts from different zoos determine new herd compositions and moving animals.
“What turns out to be extremely complex, often months-long processes, ultimately serves the natural and animal-friendly keeping of African elephants in European zoos,” the zoo said in its post.