Sheila and her Elephant AngelBelfast Zoo

The Belfast zoo is on the hunt for the “Elephant Angel.” 

No, this is not an insult directed at a large cherub, but rather the nickname for a woman who cared for a baby elephant in her Belfast backyard during World War II.

As part of the Belfast Zoo’s 75th anniversary this year, they have a launched a search for the mystery elephant caretaker’s identity and her family’s whereabouts.

It was 1941, the height of WWII, and Belfast was under threat of air raids by the Nazi German Air Force. 

Not only did the city have to worry about its human citizens, but they had to consider the animals in the Belfast Zoo. To prevent the critters from running amok during the chaos of bomb strikes, the Ministry of Defense ordered that 33 of the zoo animals, including a tiger, a puma, a lynx, a black bear, two polar bears and six wolves, be killed.

The zoo’s resident baby elephant, Sheila, was one of the lucky animals who encountered a happier, safer fate.

A local woman found it in her heart to take Sheila in as her own, turning her back garden into an elephant safe haven during the violent and scary time. There, the Elephant Angel fed and lovingly cared for the baby pachyderm.

To this day, the animal lover’s identity remains a mystery.

To fill up this hole in its 75-year history, the Belfast Zoo is appealing for information about the Elephant Angel’s identity, and her family’s whereabouts.

If you have any information on the Elephant Angel,  email the Belfast Zoo at history@belfastzoo.co.uk