A baby elephant cried, lying beneath a blanket, eyes soaking wet, and tears running into his mouth when he realized that his mother tried to intentionally kill him just shortly after birth. The crying baby elephant boy named Zhuang-zhuang couldn’t bear to be apart from his mother but any attempt by zookeepers at the Shendiaoshan wild animal reserve in Rong-cheng in China to reunite the crying baby elephant with his mother was in vain, reported The Blaze on Sept. 14, 2013.
When zookeepers heard the baby elephant cry after his mom stepped on him soon after birth, zookeepers assumed at first that it had just been an accident. Veterinarians took care of the crying baby elephant’s wounds and returned him back to his mother after two hours -- only for her to attack him again.
In order to save the baby elephant’s life, one of the zookeepers drove away the mother while the crying baby elephant was placed under a blanket and taken into safety. It was evident that if returned to his mother, she would eventually succeed in killing him.
The zookeeper who saved the crying baby elephant from his mother has now adopted Zhuang-zhuang and says that the baby elephant continued to cry for five hours because “he couldn’t bear to be parted from his mother and it was his mother who was trying to kill him.”
According to a park’s spokesperson, the zookeeper was successful in consoling the crying baby elephant after five hours and that the two have now bonded. The baby elephant has been adopted by the zookeeper who saved him at the wild animal reserve in China.
While researchers cannot explain specifically why the mother tried to kill her baby elephant shortly after birth and why the baby elephant was crying, they do know that living in captivity outside of traditional family groups can interfere with animals’ protective instincts towards their young.
- Killing for food (survival in severe cases)
- Killing for limited resources (competition for food)
- Killing for accelerated oestrous cycle (the sexual selection hypothesis)
- Killing for the survival of the fittest
- Killing due to stress
The only incident of elephant infanticide in the wild reported by Wildlife Yearbook was the killing of a one-year-old baby elephant that was attacked by a bull.
“Though it is a very important phenomenon, infanticide is usually overlooked by researchers. This is probably because the behavior occurs very rapidly.”
Luckily for the crying baby elephant boy Zhuang-zhuang, zookeepers were able to intervene in time to save him from being stomped to death by his mother. Being rejected by a mom who tried to kill him, the baby elephant had certainly every reason to cry.