The cries of a baby elephant were all that remained after a stunning and violent rejection from his mother at a Chinese zoo last month.
Zookeepers at a Chinese zoo said the female elephant tried to trample baby Zhuangzhuang to death shortly after the elephant was born on August 30. They thought that it must have been an accident, so they treated the baby elephant’s injuries and brought it back to its mother two hours later.
But it turns out the attack was no accident. The mother immediately tried to kill her baby again, forcing keepers to step in and drive the mother away.
They were able to save the newborn’s life, but the baby elephant reportedly cried for five hours at the separation.
“The calf was very upset and he was crying for five hours before he could be consoled’, a zoo spokesman said. “He couldn’t bear to be parted from his mother and it was his mother who was trying to kill him. They have made a good bond. We don’t know why the mother turned on her calf but we couldn’t take a chance.”
The baby elephant is now being raised by zookeepers at the Shendiaoshan Wild Animal Natural Reserve Area, in Rongcheng, Shandong province.
Though the baby elephant cried at first, reports say he has since taken well to his keepers and is growing up healthy.
Pictures showed the baby elephant lying underneath a blanket, its face streaked with tears. While some would argue that the cries of the baby elephant are not the same as human emotions, research has shown that elephants do have the ability to feel complex emotions. For example, elephants have been known to pause when they encounter the bones of dead elephants, feeling the remains carefully with their trunks. Elephants have also been shown to possess a degree of self-awareness rarely seen in the animal world.
The cries of the baby elephant could also be a product of its living situation. Elephants living in captivity have been shown to commit infanticide at a much higher rate than wild elephants.