When I first saw this little fellow in Zambia in October last year, my heart melted a little. I immediately noticed his shorter-than-usual trunk, and wondered how an animal that requires so much use of this crucial tool could survive with the front 1/3rd missing...
When I saw him he was stuck belly-deep in sucking mud. Mum stood her ground nearby, coaxing him to get out on his own. It almost hurt to watch him struggle. But, as always, Mums know best. She knew she had to teach him he wasn't different just because his trunk was shorter; that no matter what stood in his way in life, he had to persevere... or fall behind. And, just like any other baby elephant stuck in the mud - if they walked in there, they had to get back out again. Part of me wanted to dive in and help - the other part knew, obviously, I had no right interfering in nature's path, whatever the outcome might be. I never would have. I just couldn't help but want to make that struggle easier on him.
Several tough minutes later, though, he emerged all on his own. Mum kept her distance; he came to her under his own steam. And he came to her at speed once he was on hard ground, super proud of his accomplishment. It was sooo much fun to watch!!
I stayed with them for over an hour until the pair moved off into the setting sun... After they had gone, I felt rushes of pride, relief, and in part shame that I'd judged him less-than-able for his short trunk. Again Nature had proved me wrong. But I was grateful for it :D wouldn't you be!?
What a little champ! And WHAT a clever, knowing mother. Yay for Mums!!
* For more cute baby animal pics, click this link!