Fact: There is nothing more adorable than a baby elephant. Yes, fact. They’re bite-size versions of the world’s largest terrestrial animal, which already makes them a little more relatable to humans than their enormous older relatives. Plus, they’re just learning how to navigate the world; they’re awkward on their feet and with their trunks and that’s all real cute. Well, it is until a tuskless toddler takes a nasty spill and flails in distress, unable to right herself. Then we loudly gasp while our heart skips a beat. But then something amazing happens.
Watch this video. Omysha, a young elephant in the Zurich Zoo tries to scale a small shelf of earth, like a human toddler playing in a sandbox. Then she tumbles, and when we see her in trouble, we want to act, to set her upright and comfort the little peanut. But stepping in is not an option; we’d be as helpless as a flailing elephant. Luckily, by a concerted effort the family dashes by the baby’s side, trunk-nudging her over and onto her feet again. These female relatives, perhaps mother and aunt, escort the young one, flanking her as added protection against the threat of any opportunistic predators or other dangers. And we can all breathe a sigh of relief.
For the elephants, being a protective parent is a matter of natural selection. Having the world’s longest gestation period of 22 months in a huge investment which they can’t afford to lose. But it’s still inspiring, and we may see something in ourselves with this kind, nurturing, familial act. We would do the same for our children. Watch the full video: