In the last days of March, a family of elephants living in Cambodia’s Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary headed over to a large mud hole to splash around. But after they jumped in and got nice and muddy, they faced a classic children’s-book conundrum—they couldn’t get out again.
As ScienceDaily reports, the mud hole started as the remnants of a Vietnam War-era bomb crater, and has since been enlarged by farmers, who use it for water storage. When the farmers came to fetch water and saw the elephants stuck there, they called the Department of Environment—who, in turn, dialed up the Wildlife Conservation Society.
A rescue team soon mobilized, made up of farmers, government employees, and conservationists. Some volunteers fed and watered the stuck pachyderms. Others constructed an escape ramp. In an area where humans and elephants often clash over crop destruction, “this [was] a great example of everyone working together,” WCS director Ross Sinclair told ScienceDaily.
One by one, the elephants used the ramp to pull themselves out of the mud, with help from the other elephants, who pushed from below. When the very last one—a small baby—couldn’t quite make it, the people all worked together to haul him out with a rope.
Video footage shows each elephant trotting away from the crater, as if to say, “I thought I was never going to get out of that one!” Nice job, humans.
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