The Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery

The first in our country...

One by One circle

One by one...
each life matters

The Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery (ZEN) was established in 2013 by Roxy Danckwerts in Harare at the Wild is Life Sanctuary. It was the evolution of Wild is Life and affords individual orphaned elephants a second chance at life.

These orphans, who have been severely traumatized deserve the opportunity to grow and thrive in the natural world once more and that is where our efforts and hearts lie.

The ZEN Project is generously supported by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) which has partnered with ZEN to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project and to whom we are truly grateful.

To date, ZEN has rescued 50 orphaned elephants, 30 elephants are in the process of rehabilitation and 12 taking their last step to rewilding in Panda Masuie just near Victoria Falls.

I’ll keep you safe...
You keep me wild.

What we Do

The Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery was established as a specialized care center for orphaned, milk-dependent elephant calves.

These young orphans require individual and bespoke care as they are particularly vulnerable in their early years. Because of the intensive nature of this work, the babies require around-the-clock attention to ensure their best chance of survival. Equipped with all the necessary infrastructure, the ZEN nursery is the only facility of its’ kind in Zimbabwe.

The welfare of each individual elephant that comes into our care is our primary concern. We take great measures to ensure that these vulnerable babies are given the necessary attention, care, and love that is needed to ensure every possible chance of survival.

Rehabilitating milk-dependent elephants is a difficult process and requires a diverse team of experts to ensure success.

Every calf is different and we need to be flexible in adjusting treatment and we adopted a holistic approach to the way in which we undertake the rehabilitation of each baby in our care. All calves are treated as individuals and, with a dedicated team of veterinarians, nurses, and carers, we are constantly learning new and innovative ways to support and look after these vulnerable and precious animals.

We believe that research is a critical part of the work that we do. We are consistently collecting and analysing data from each individual elephant to ensure that they have the best possible chance of a full reintegration back to the wild.


Elephant rescues often require the young orphans to be immobilised by our vet Mark Lombard before being airlifted to Harare International Airport. Once back on the ground, the orphans are moved to the nursery where undergo specialised care until they are nursed back to health.


The rehabilitation process is a 3 to 5 year process where each individual elephant is given specialised care dependent on their specific individual needs. During this process, the elephants begin the process of learning to adjust to a life in the wild.


As our orphaned elephants grow into young, healthy adolescents a decision is made by all stakeholders and are then moved to our 34,000 hectare protected area near Victoria Falls. Here the elephants begin their exciting last journey back to the wild.

Every animal has a name, a story and a destiny in the Wild…

Our dedicated team

Roxy Danckwerts

Roxy Danckwerts

Angela Loubser

Angela Loubser

General Manager
Moses Nzou

Moses Nzou

Senior Operations Officer
Catherine Caminade-Lavault Jennings

Catherine Jennings

Animal Welfare 
January Gweshe

January Gweshe

Head Elephant Handler
Dr Mark Lombard

Dr Mark Lombard

Jonathan Gwara 

Jonathan Gwara 

Estate Foreman
Assan Pakaenda

Assan Pakaenda

Estate Foreman
ZEN team

The Zen Team

The value of wildlife is incalculable, perilous and precious.

All donations go directly towards the wellbeing of the animals in our care
Wild Is Life USA is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) organization, meaning your donations may be tax deductible under U.S. law.
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