This painting shows an orphaned baby elephant that I found in 2003 in The Elephant Transit Home in the south of Sri Lanka. I was aware that this was a special place for orphaned elephants as they were released back into the wild when they were about 4 years old, the age they are naturally weaned. This little girl is like a tiny woolly mammoth as they are covered in fluffy bristles when they are born. They don’t have a lot of human interaction except for feeding times which are every 3/4 hours like human babies, but are usually ‘adopted’ by another, older orphan and nurtured as if it was their own baby. This is incredible behaviour as non of the orphans have known the love of their own mother or herd and it must be inherent in the genes. You will have guessed that by now I was totally under the spell of this tiny orphan and offered to foster her solely for the time she would be in the ETH – about 4 years. This was done by selling my paintings and sending the money to be spent on her formula milk. I visited every year and released her back into the wild in 2007 with my children and grandchildren. As she was mine alone as a foster baby, I was allowed to name her: Florence – Nightingale – what else could it be with my surname! I still visit on a regular basis and with the vet who rescued her Dr. Vijitha Perera – a man whose knowledge of elephants is phenomenal – drive into the wild areas of the park in case we can see Flo. She is truly wild now and is in with a wild herd and I would love to know if she has a baby of her own. There are some very handsome elephant boys out there and she is of course the most beautiful elephant in the jungle (we mother’s know this don’t we)!!
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