Scotland's last remaining elephant on hunt for new companion
Mondula, a 45-year-old female, has been left crestfallen by the loss of her enclosure mate Toto.
And now her keepers at Blair Drummond Safari Park, near Stirling, are looking all over Europe to find her a new friend.
Elephants are like humans in the sense that they need company to thrive in life.
Ailsa McCormick, head keeper of the park’s large animals, wants to create something like a retirement home for older elephants.
And while Mondula and Toto did not form powerful bonds as they were not related, Ailsa said they were like old women who tolerated - but needed - each other.
She said: “When we lost Toto it was a very difficult time for Mondy and all of the staff.
“The pair were never what you would exactly call friends because both came from different family groups, but they were together for around 20 years.
“It’s not that they did not like each other, just that they did not have the family bonds that elephants form in their herds in the wild.”
Toto arrived at the park from Basel Zoo in Switzerland in 1997, while Mondula arrived from Erfurt Zoo in Germany the same year.
The third elephant at Blair Drummond, 49-year-old female Estrella, died in 2013.
After collapsing in March last year, Toto was put down by keepers to prevent her suffering further.
Visitors at the time saw keepers in tears as the decision was made to euthanise the elephant.
Ailsa is looking forward to welcoming a new female to Mondula’s enclosure as soon as possible.
She said: “It’s something that we’re looking to do and we have had a lot of questions about Mondula being on her own, but it’s something that’s going to take time.
“Getting a companion is not going to happen as we, or she, would like - but it is going to happen.
“It has to be the right elephant with a temperament that’s compatible with Mondula’s.”
In the months since Toto’s death, keepers have put in an extra effort to make sure Mondula did not grow lonely.
This included a more stimulating environment for her, and more interaction with the keepers.
Ailsa added: “She is doing really well. It has been a big change for her, but she has been really happy with the effort we have put in to helping her adjust.”