The Elephant Orphanage Project (EOP) in Zambia, aims to rescue, rehabilitate and return orphaned elephants back to the wild. The orphans' mothers are often victims of poaching and human wildlife conflict. Once an orphan has been rescued and stabilised they are taken to EOP's Lilayi Elephant Nursery in Lusaka where they are provided with intensive care around the clock, which in some cases means being bottle fed every three hours. The dedicated and highly trained keepers are guardians to the elephants day and night and they help them to overcome their loss and learn behaviours required for them to survive in their natural environment.
Once the calves are no longer reliant on milk, are healthy and robust, and have formed a bond with their fellow orphans, they are moved to EOP's release facility within Kafue National Park. Here they are integrated into an already established orphan herd and learn to become independent of human support. They spend most of their time browsing in the park under the watchful eye of the herds' self appointed matriarch and a limited number of elephant carers. Being within an environment of vast natural forests, inhabited by a local population of over 1,000 wild elephant elephants, there is every opportunity for the orphaned elephants to reintegrate with fellow elephants and eventually return to the wild. Until this time comes, they are given the option to return to the safety of a boma at night which also enables EOP carers to regularly monitor their physical and phycological well being.
What Elephant Orphanage Project does
Rescue orphaned elephants and care for them at Lilayi Elephant Nursery
Rehabilitate rescued elephants by preparing them for re-wilding at Camp Phoenix, the release facility in Kafue National Park
Create an orphan herd to reduce the elephant's dependency on humans and increase their chances of wild integration
Analyse and record the elephants' social behaviour and interactions through ongoing research and data collection
Monitor the orphan herd during and following their release
How Olsen Animal Trust helps
OAT are a primary project partner, alongside IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare and DSWF (The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation) providing ongoing financial support towards the overall running of the operation.
Meet some of the characters
Nursery for orphaned elephants
Making up the orphan's bottles
Elephants and their keepers
EOP and their major donors
Relocating the orphans to the release site
New orphans meeting the herd
Release Facility for rehabilitated elephants
The orphan herd
For further information on the work of Elephant Orphanage Project please visit