Baby elephant cries for five hours in China zoo after his mother rejects him. Is it unusual for a baby elephant or other baby mammals to be rejected by their mothers?
Shortly after an elephant gave birth at the Shendiaoshan Wild Animal Nature Reserve in Rongcheng, China, she rejected the calf.
She didn't just reject him, the mother elephant stepped on him.
Zookeepers removed the baby elephant, treated his injuries, and returned him to his mother. They thought she'd mistakenly stepped on him.
But she did it again, reports the British news site, the Daily Mail.
Zookeepers then permanently removed the baby elephant from the same enclosure holding the mother.
"The calf was very upset and he was crying for five hours before he could be consoled," a spokesman said. 'He couldn't bear to be parted from his mother and it was his mother who was trying to kill him."
The baby elephant has since been adopted by the zookeepers and is making good progress.
How unusual is it for an elephant – or any baby mammal – to be rejected by its mother? It's not the norm. But it does happen. A baby spider monkey was rejected by its mother at the Melbourne Zoo in 2011. The zoo staff jumped in to care for the little tyke, and there were some adorable (and sad) photos of the baby monkey cuddling with stuffed animals.
The Featured Creature blog tells the stories of a baby meerkat, aardvark, wallaby, spider monkey, seal, and lemur, who were all abandoned by their mothers and then nurtured by zookeepers. While there's been speculation that mothers in captivity don't know how to take care of their young, because the don't have good role models, there's also evidence to suggest that this kind of behavior happens in the wild as well. But for different reasons.