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    I met this baby elephant while documenting a baby elephant rehabilitation/release program in Assam, India. He had lost his mother in a flood. I spent a lot of time with him and became quite attached. When I finally had to leave, I turned around one more time to look at the building that housed him and saw he had got up on his hind legs and was looking out the window at me. His expression was so strikingly human in that moment and I saw in his eyes something universal and profoundly expressive.
    WHAT MAKES THIS PHOTO GREAT?
    Composition 78
    Lighting 48
    Creativity 36
    Story 134

    Julia, Breathtaking and poignant photograph. Your backstory enriches the information and is heart rending - if that is the right word. Thank you, Robin

    Robin Schwartz
    Fine Art/Editorial Photographer
    253 comments
    Tina Johnson
    Tina Johnson

    I would not have been able to leave him behind.  I have such a soft spot in my soul for animals.  Especially ones who have issues.  He didn't want you to leave.  A bond was created with your contact.  Cherish if forever.

    Jamie Zartman
    Jamie Zartman

    Great photos always make a viewer want to know the story behind the photo, and you have done this again

    Robin Kirwan-Taylor
    Robin Kirwan-Taylor

    Simply beautiful. Nothing else but stunning and your story sums it up. Must have been very hard to leave!

    Kathleen Towne-Lutz
    Kathleen Towne-Lutz

    This is magnificent as is the elephant.  They do have feelings like humans do.  I grieve over how many

    are being poached and killed every day!!  Everyone should fight for these animals.  Also tell

    RinglingBrothers to retire their tb sick and abused animals to a reliable sanctuary!

    brian grednuk
    brian grednuk

    1. Absolutely adorable, although turning around to get this shot had to be a bittersweet moment, im sure you'll never need to look at that photo to be reminded about the look he left you with. 

    Robert Barber
    Robert Barber

    Such a gorgeous photograph of a truly beautiful animal!

    Sanjay Verma
    Sanjay Verma

    A soul stirring moment captured,,, the baby elephant exhibits a profound mix of emotions with tons of sadness and grief .  For the second time the baby has to undergo the pains of separation.The process of rehabilitation from the agony of separation is often very sluggish as time is the only distraction to overcome this grief.

    Dixhita Panchal
    Dixhita Panchal

    Beautiful picture, i love baby elephants, it heart touching and i get emotional happy feeling the moment i saw the photo.. (Y)

    Michael Stumpf
    Michael Stumpf

    Beautiful photo indeed. On the topic of the ele, they can become very emotionally attached, if they are with someone for an extended period of time and we have to be quite careful with that. They have been known to die of a broken heart if someone leaves them. Daphne Sheldrick experienced this once. 

    Melinda Zaragoza
    Melinda Zaragoza

    @Michael Stumpf Picture is majestic.  Human and Elephant, the similarities are captured here.  Michael is correct, however.  During rehabilitation, human emotional contact should be kept to a bare minimum enough to make the elephant comfortable, not scared, but limited to avoid attachments.  During relocation with a herd they will be 'adopted' and it will be easier for them to develop attachment to their adopted parent.  Do you have more information on this rehabilitation/release program in Assam?  To my knowledge most elephants end up in one of numerous sanctuaries/tourist attractions.  I'd be interested to hear of actual relocation into the wild in India.  Picture is wonderful and I hope this little guy finds parents soon.

    Julia Cumes
    Julia Cumes

    @Melinda Zaragoza @Michael Stumpf Hi Melinda. Thanks for your comment. So yes, the rehabilitation center was just outside of Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India (far far up north). It's called the Kaziranga Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation Centre. It's there that the orphan elephant was introduced to a herd made up of other orphan elephants (some of whom were older and sort of acted as the"mamas" and "aunties"). After years together, the elephants were then relocated to Manas National Park (also in Assam but close to the Bhutanese border). There they were released into the wilderness and according to most recent updates, they were supposedly doing well. Hope this helps. Thanks!

    BRENDA SHEA
    BRENDA SHEA

    BREATH TAKING! SOUNDS LIKE YOU REALLY BONDED WITH THIS ANIMAL...I THINK I WOULD HAVE CRIED WHEN WALKING AWAY! BEAUTIFUL SHOT...YOU REALLY CAPTURED THE HEART AND SOUL OF THIS MAGNIFICENT CREATURE.

    Kaya Scodeggio
    Kaya Scodeggio

    I really like this photo as it captured this elephant's feeling of sadness. 

    Judy Buchanan
    Judy Buchanan

    It must have been hard to walk away, his face is full of love & gratitude.

    Myrna Lieberman
    Myrna Lieberman

    It is full of emotion. When you see pictures like this, who can doubt that animals have feelings 

    Kenneth Ferenchak
    Kenneth Ferenchak

    My opinion is now more reinforced - animals do freely and openly share their emotions.  Julia caught one of those powerful moments!

    Beda Musau Mulwa Muia
    Beda Musau Mulwa Muia

    The Orphan Elephant is asking you as the mother he knows Why are you leaving him alone ?  You are the one who cared for him and now you are going who will take Care of him  and you are the only Mother He knows ?

    Have you gone back to check how is doing if you LOVE him ?  THINK TWICE  and be BLESSED .

    Laurie H.
    Laurie H.

    What a sweet story! The baby elephant is so cute with the expression of his eye. His trunk hanging out the window and his feet on the ledge are perfect.

    June Preugschat
    June Preugschat

    Another great photo Julia and moving. I would have been in tears walking away and turning around to see this face. 

    sripati sai
    sripati sai

    and they say they have long memories !

    Wen Q.
    Wen Q.

    Powerful image.  I can't hold my tears when I read the story. Do you know what happened to him now? Thanks for sharing with us. 

    --- Wen

    Marion Mahn
    Marion Mahn

    just looking at the expression of fear and loss in the baby's eyes is very daunting

    Brandy H.
    Brandy H.

    Incredibly touching story and photograph.

    Matthew Palmer
    Matthew Palmer

    Simply love the emotional connection to this image.

    dipak m.
    dipak m.

    When you look at this photo for several times, you feel the expression of the Orphaned Elephant. its like the elephant was saying something. its a sad, awful, amazing. I love this photo 

    Juan C Torres
    Juan C Torres

    I saw this photo today in the magazine. Congrats.

    Ruvaid Dar
    Ruvaid Dar

    The details are amazing in this pic 

    Howard Kipfer
    Howard Kipfer

    Sad, and sweet photo of a fragile baby. Breaks my heart.

    Hanno Pangsepp
    Hanno Pangsepp

    When my dog died, having shared his time with us more than 17 years, I went to pet's sanctuary, only to have a look. I found a dog, with whom I played and walked and shared some time. When I left, he stayed there, and looked at me with just the similar sad eyes, having a question: "Why?" When I returned in two days, he sat at the very same place, I think he hasn't moved at all. Now he is a member of our family.

    Hanno Pangsepp
    Hanno Pangsepp

    Come back to see this photo again and again. Words are not needed here.

    Photo Details
    Date Uploaded: Nov 30, 2013
    Location: Kāziranga, Assam, India
    Copyright: © Julia Cumes
    Categories: Nature, Animals, Black and White
    Assignments: The Animals We Love, Nature in Black and White, Love Snap, The Moment
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