Sunbeams in darkest days

Little by little becomes a lot;

Moyo is an orphaned baby elephant from Zimbabwe found in spring 2014. She was rescued from drowning when she was only a few weeks old. Little Moyo found a new loving home and received best possible care at ‘Wild is Life grand Zimbabwe and ZEN’ (Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery). This orphanage, foundation, was founded by Roxy Danckwerts and provides care for all kinds of animals such as the giraffes Skye, Maybeline and Mercedes, Noodles the wildebeest, Poppy the little dikdik and many other animals.

moyo ligt in zand aug 2015_o

From the very first moment after her rescue, little Moyo fought for her life. Desperately in search for love and security, she was very attached to her adoptive family, human and animal. In the shelter, the dog Josephine saw herself as a mother about Moyo. Little Moyo started to follow Josephine everywhere and soon became friends with the naughty warthog called Pickles. This trio became inseparable and they regularly guarantee for adventures and hilarity. Mrs Pickles was caught while chilling on the couch in Roxy’s veranda. Little Moyo also wanted to be there, only the picture on the pillows she found a bit frightening. Roxy took it away. Pickles understands the art of breaking in and innocent Moyo followed her loyal. That’s how it happened that Pickles and Moyo knew  to get into the office. They were caught in the act while they were plundering the bags with fan mail. The paperwork was everywhere all over the place. At an unguarded moment, Pickles managed to get into the storehouse without anyone noticed it. Pickles had broken all sacks of milk powder for Moyo’s special milk with her crispy sharp teeth. And little Moyo looked like a white ghost, because she had rolled in the milk powder.

Moyo’s first bath was not very successful. To get her in the water, Roxy herself walked into the pond, followed by Josphine and Pickles. They were able to plunge in the water and in the mud. Moyo just didn’t feel attracted by it. She stood there and looked at it. After a few days, Moyo had gathered enough courage and went  with hesitation into the pond. Since that moment she started to like the water more and more. Then a new animal came in the shelter: a white lamb named Kim that Roxy had received a gift from a local farmer. Moyo immediately fell in love with Kim until she began to make noise. That sound that came out of Kim, Moyo found terrible. There she had to get used to it. Moyo and Kim became as inseparable with Pickles, Josephine and Moyo .  Roxy goes often with her family on a picnic. Moyo and her three girlfriends also joined them. Moyo loved the  picnic robe, while Pickles prefered to eat everything alone if she gets the chance. Meanwhile, Pickles’s teeth have been shortened because they unintentionally hurt Moyo during wrestling. Hanging on the couch is no longer included, as the two grow a lot.


With the arrival and care for Moyo, ‘Wild is Life’ decided to build an elephant shelter to be able to accommodate more orphaned elephants in the future. Shortly afterwards, the shocking news was that many wild born baby elephants were taken captive from the wild to sell them for a huge amount of money to Chinese zoos and circuses. Three of these elephants were finally discarded by China because they were “damaged”. Their damage became their rescue. Roxy opened the doors of her shelter for these three orphaned babies at the age of 3 and 4 years.  The 3 young elephants Annabelle, Matabele and Kukurakura found a loving home where they were prepared for an independent life in free nature. The ZEN was built in 6 days with man and power to provide these elephants a new home in a safe accommodation.

Annabelle and her friends settles in very well. Annabelle was the youngest of the three, she is handicapped to her trunk and she misses her tail, which has been presumably caused by a predator in the past. Moyo and her four girlfriends were curious to meet the three new arrivals.

Annabelle’s first reaction towards Moyo wasn’t very nice and she pushed Moyo away. Since then, Moyo kept her distance to the three orphans for a while. Roxy had hardly any experience in raising orphans. First, she contacted Daphne Sheldrick from DSWT and Roxy went too to Lek in Elephant Nature Park to exchange experiences with Lek and the medical team, and to learn about the medical care of elephants. Once again, Roxy was tested when Wild was Life in a short period of time with at least seven baby orphans who had to be rescued. Three of them were already passed away before they could be saved. Mutapa passed away too depsite the best care he was just to weak and to young. The other elephants called Zuva and Lucy were only days old at their rescue and Phoenix was about a year old but severely injured. Despite all the intensive efforts and care, unfortunately, none of these elephants has achieved it. They died in Roxy’s loving, caring arms. As a result, Roxy has emitted emotionally into a deep valley where despair and feeling failed to play a major role. The only elephant that makes her good after her rescue is Sizi. Kukurakura fell in love with Sizi and Moyo and Sizi liked each other too. With Sizi, the little herd now has five elephants that have fun again and each day get closer together. In the meantime Annabelle faced so many challenges in her young life. The attack by the predator which made her handicapped, the loss of her family, being captured to be sold to China, then she found a new home at Wild is Life. Again she had to adjust her new circumstances. If this wasn’t enough yet Annabelle needed surgery in her face to remove some nasty cysts. Again Annabelle survived with grace and determination. Despite her injuries, handicap and everything she has gone though, Annabelle developed herself as matriarch of the ZIM-ellies. When baby Tulku was rescued and joined the herd there are now 6 young Zim-ellies.


What keeps Roxy positive and gives her strength to keep on going  during these dark moments of despair and loss, is the look of love and hope reflecting in the eyes of these 6 young elephants who have already experienced a lot of misery in their young life. These babies are looking forward to her happily and with great expectation. How sad Roxy feels about the elephants she has not been able to save, one look at Moyo’s sun beams or one of the 5 other orphans is enough to realize what it’s all about. “Many little bits can grow up to a lot,” and: “Every life how big or small matters,” says Roxy from ‘Wild is Life Grand Zimbabwe and ZIM Ellies’. “And that’s where it is all about.



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