Dramatic Rescue, With Surprise Help From Muddy Elephants

Asian elephants in Cambodia were mired in bomb crater—then assistance arrived
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2017 3:40 PM CDT

Teamwork both human and animal is what saved the lives of nearly a dozen Asian elephants in a Cambodian wildlife preserve after local farmers there stumbled upon a distressing sight: 11 of the endangered animals stuck in a mud-filled crater formed nearly a half-century ago by a Vietnam War bomb, Live Science reports. The three adult females and eight youngsters apparently fell into peril in the forest of the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary when they decided to stop off for a bath and a drink at the crater—which the Wildlife Conservation Society notes had been made even bigger by farmers to use as a water storage pond—and ended up getting stuck in the mud as it dried, unable to scramble back up the 10-foot sides.

But it's the rescue that's now getting the most attention, helped along by a video on YouTube that shows the elephants' dramatic assisted exit after the farmers found them and called the conservation society for help. After giving the elephants sustenance for strength, rescuers dug a ramp in the side of the giant hole so the animals could walk out. The exit slope was slick, however, and so the elephants got to work ramming each other up the incline with their trunks and heads. When the last elephant remained with none of its compatriots to push it to safety, the humans joined in, using ropes to help drag the straggler out. "Their loss would have been a major blow to conservation," a WCS rep said in a statement, per Live Science. (Perhaps the elephants consoled each other during their ordeal.)

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