3 min read

Elephant Family Runs To Reunite With Baby Rescued From Ditch

He'd been trapped for hours, but the herd refused to leave him behind.

Coming to the aid of an animal in need is its own reward — preserving a precious life that might otherwise be lost. But in the recent rescue of a young elephant calf in India, those on hand to assist were treated to more than just a sense of fulfillment for having helped.

They also received what's been interpreted as a show of gratitude from the calf's thankful herd.

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Last week, the desperate calf was discovered trapped at the bottom of a ditch near the village of Thattekad. The night before, locals had heard the trumpeting of the calf's family, likely as they struggled in vain to free the young animal from his predicament themselves.

By morning, forest officials were on the scene with a crew to help. Using an excavator, they carved a channel in the steep earthen walls, allowing the young elephant to climb out on his own. It's what happened next, however, that elicited the biggest cheers from those who made it possible.

After the exhausted calf stumbled out, his family rushed in from the surrounding forest to meet him. Before returning back to the forest, one elephant, believed to be the calf's mother, could be seen pausing — then turning back to face the rescuers, raising her trunk to them as if to salute their efforts.

It's hard to say for certain, of course, what was meant by that gesture; elephants are known to raise their trunks to detect scents in the airs, so perhaps she was simply curious about the people gathered there. But what is known is that elephants have some of the strongest social bonds in the animal kingdom — and the actions taken by rescuers that day ensured that theirs remained unbroken.