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Photos: Rendezvous With The Gentle Giants Of Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Sri Lanka

13/07/2015 8:29 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Ajay Sood

Many years back, a friend had approached us for help. She was a part of a non-profit organisation that used to help animals in distress. She sought help for an orphaned elephant calf they had named Yogi.

Yogi was only a couple of months old. And we were told that as babies, elephants are totally dependent on mother's milk for a full two years. So, Yogi was completely on a Cerelac and Lactogen diet. And though he was just a baby, he would consume four tins of Cerelac and of Lactogen every day. Her organisation was going broke feeding Yogi.

We thought of a novel solution and approached our daughter's school for help. The school in turn requested all children to contribute a tin each of Cerelac and Lactogen for Yogi. Over the next two days, we had 2000 tins of each of these baby foods. The school also adopted Yogi as the school mascot.

That one incident sensitised me about orphan elephants. Soon after, I decided to make a trip to see Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka. Department of National Zoological Gardens, Sri Lanka, runs this facility. It supports close to hundred orphaned elephants today. I shot these images there.

The site filled me with admiration for the Sri Lankan government. True that today it has become a tourist attraction and these elephants are supported by funds generated from these tourists, but the Sri Lankan government's gesture when they started the orphanage was laudable.

It makes me believe till the time ordinary citizens like us, commonplace institutions like my daughter's school and governments of countries continue to show care for other species that cohabit our earth, there is hope for life, and for peace.

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