Two adult elephants saved a drowning calf through a combination of quick thinking and teamwork (video below).
The calf had been standing with one of the adults at the edge of a pool at Grand Park Zoo in Seoul, South Korea, when it slipped and fell into the water, reports the Daily Mail.
The adult immediately went into rescue mode as the baby elephant struggled to keep its mouth and trunk above the deep water, which was over its head.
A second adult immediately rushed over to help, but they were unable to grab the struggling calf with their trunks.
Proving why elephants are considered to be among the smartest of animals, they quickly changed their strategy and rushed to the shallow end of the pool, where they entered and were able to approach the drowning calf.
The effort paid off, as they successfully nudged the youngster to the shallow end of the pool, where it was able to walk out of the water under its own power.
All the while, a third adult elephant could be seen in the background, frantically pacing back and forth as it helplessly witnessed the unfolding drama. It seemed to want to join the rescue team, but was confined to a fenced-in enclosure.
Since being posted online May 16, the video of the rescue has received more than 459,000 views.
One commenter declared the heroic elephants to be "Better than people."
That comment echoes the Russian geographer, naturalist and anarchist Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921), who believed that cooperation among animals could serve as a model for humans.
As the evolutionary geneticist Norman A. Johnson explains in an article on Nature.com, Kropotkin led expeditions to Siberia, where he witnessed how human societies survived the extraordinarily harsh conditions not by survival of the fittest, but rather by cooperation. He observed animals, especially, engaging in cooperation, which he termed "mutual aid."
Johnson provides a few examples from the animal kingdom. "Groups of lions will hunt together to bring down prey that they could not capture as individuals," he notes. "Vampire bats will give blood to starving members of their species. In many bird species, individuals will stay with their [parents] to help raise their siblings instead of striking out on their own."
Kropotkin, observes Johnson, "thought that our ethics should be derived from the mutual aid that he observed time after time in nature."
Like the elephants at the Korean zoo.