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Hand-raising Orphan Asian Elephants

A Practical Guide

For Asian Elephant

Range Country Care Providers

Note: This guide is currently a work in progress

Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 have been completed (in draft form) to date

Home: Welcome
Home: Headliner

Why we developed this guide 

How elephant calves become orphans 

There are many reasons that elephant calves become orphans. Accidents or natural disasters such as flooding may result in the death of the mother. Weak calves may become separated from the herd or may be abandoned. Calves may fall into wells, ditches, or canals, or become entangled in a snare.  


Why this manual is needed 

Hand-raising orphan elephants is challenging, especially if they have been injured. Even facilities with experience are not always successful. To date there is no comprehensive resource to provide practical and science-based information on how to care for orphan Asian elephant calves.


We have created a practical guide for veterinarians, veterinary technicians, mahouts, caregivers, and anyone else involved with elephant hand-rearing. Because we hope to reach a broad audience, we have tried to use clear and succinct language and have defined medical terms that may not be familiar to all. 


We welcome feedback and will update this guide as new information becomes available. 

Understanding the basic concepts of 'good welfare' is a good starting point for this guide

To begin your journey towards a practical understanding of how to successfully hand-raise orphan Asian elephants--and achieve positive outcomes for their lifelong wellbeing--we encourage you to first review our slide show below.  Click on the image below to start or click here to download a PDF version.

Contributors & Reviewers

Dr. Susan K. Mikota - Veterinarian

Executive Director & Director of Veterinary Programs and Research, Elephant Care International

(Read more)

Dr. Willem Schaftenaar - Veterinarian

Veterinary advisor to the Elephant Taxon Advisory Group (Europe) 

(Read more)

Dr. B. Vijitha Perera - Veterinarian

Elephant Transit Home, Sri Lanka

Dr. Ellen Dierenfeld

Member, American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s Nutrition Advisory Group; Past President, Comparative Nutrition Society, and; Advisor to the online Handrearing Resource Center.  (Read more)

Dr. Bhaskar Choudhury - Veterinarian

Manager and Head Veterinarian at Wildlife Trust of India  (Read more)

Dr. Khyne U. Mar - Veterinarian

Research Fellow, The University of Sheffield, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences (Read more)

Guide Production & Fundraising


Hollis Burbank-Hammarlund 

Founder/Director, Work for Wild Life International (Read more)

Funding Generously Provided By


Dr. Betsy Coville - Veterinarian

Coville-Triest Family Foundation


Click on image above to start slideshow.

Topics in this guidebook

This guide includes 11 chapters, other resources, appendices, and acknowledgments.

Click on images below to access chapter content.

Home: Testimonials

Have a question about
baby elephants?
Need some help?
Have a case study to share?

 We'll be back in touch soon.

Chapter 5:
Digestive Physiology / Gut Flora

Gut Flora.jpg


Susan Mikota DVM

Elephant Care International

166 Limo View Lane

Hohenwald, TN 38462


List of Chapters

Telephone (USA):  931- 628-1979

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