Animal rescue organizations exist around the world and do exhausting, emotionally hard, and rewarding work year in and year out.

One of those organizations is SWT (Sheldrick Wildlife Trust), one of Africa’s oldest wildlife charities, best known for their Orphans’ Project – “the first and most successful elephant orphan rescue and rehabilitation program in the world.”

In 1999, they rescued a baby elephant who had been abandoned when her herd couldn’t figure out a way to extract her from a drying watering hole. They named her Icholta and although she struggled at first, all of her caretakers were charmed by her sweet personality.

Icholta loved water and mud baths, and as you can see, she has an adorable face that was likely impossible not to love.

Loved or not, it eventually came time to release Icholta into the wild, and the team of caretakers were sad not to see hide nor hair of the young female for twenty-three whole years.

Then she was back, and she wasn’t alone – she had brought along two young ones of her own to show off to the humans who had saved her life. They named the two babies Inca and Izzy as well as some others from her herd who had also spent time at SWT during their lives.

SWT documented the event on their website.

“The birth of a baby elephant is always an auspicious occasion, but Izzy’s birth has special significance.

She is the 45th known calf born to an orphan we rescued, raised, and reintegrated back into the wild – and the fact that we met her just as we began our 45th year feels fitting.”

SWT was founded in 1977 by Daphne Sheldrick, who dreamed of days like these.

“One last triumph I longed for, was to be able to look with pride on an animal like an elephant, born of a mother I had nurtured from the start and think, deep inside my heart, ‘but for me…'”

The organization continues their great work on the continent, and I have to imagine moments like the long-awaited reunion with Icholta have to be the kind they live for.

Also, I’d like to spend a day with a baby elephant, please and thank you.

What’s the animal near and dear to your heart, that you would rescue if you could? Tell us about it in the comments!