It was the perfect gift for a couple who’d just moved from New Zealand and couldn’t have found a more fitting gift for their little boy.
When they had their first child, it was a huge disappointment.
“It was such a long time coming,” said Natalie, from the Auckland suburb of Marlborough.
“I had such a dream to have an elephant adopt a pet.”
Natalie said she’s since become a more active part of the adoption community, and now travels the world to help people find their animals.
She says there are still many people who have not found their way to the right person.
“We need more people who are willing to look for animals,” she said.
“They need to understand that it can be a very lonely experience.”
Animal welfare groups say there are no perfect options.
“For many people, adopting an animal is not a simple process,” said Fiona Edwards, with Animals Australia.
“Many of us are overwhelmed by the number of people who want to adopt, and the amount of work involved in finding a suitable new home.”
There is a lot of stigma attached to adopting animals, and there are a lot people who can’t find the right match, so the vast majority of people aren’t able to get involved in the adoption process.
“In New Zealand, the country with the highest number of stray animals, only 5% of adoptions are made from a domestic animal.
But there are plenty of ways to help with that, including a one-off adoption for pets, and an adoption of a domestic cat.
Fiona said she’d been looking into fostering a dog to help her find her new home for the family.
But it’s not just the cost that can be prohibitive, either. “
If I’m really lucky, I can make a little extra and adopt the dog,” she laughed.
But it’s not just the cost that can be prohibitive, either.
“You can’t always have a family of your own.
So you have to think about where you’re going to live and what kind of lifestyle you’re aiming for,” she explained.
“That can be really challenging, and can be hard on your finances, as well as your pets.”
If you or anyone you know needs help, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.