Everyone loves a cute animal video, that is why YouTube is full of funny puppy and cat videos that are extremely popular. Many animal lovers enjoy seeing baby animals interact with each other and their human owners. Seeing cute furry animals playing and having fun warms our hearts and we can’t help but say aww! If you have ever had a bad day, you know that looking at pictures of cute baby animals is one sure way to cheer yourself up. How could you not smile at a sweet, innocent animal?
However, sometimes a video comes along that involves animals that concerns the viewers. Maybe the video depicts an animal that is hurt or in harm’s way. This type of video tugs at our hearts and have us hoping the animal will be okay. This was the case as a visitor to a zoo in Prague filmed a startling video of a baby elephant engaging in some strange behavior. Both the onlookers in the video and the mother of the elephant seem concerned.
An elephant at the zoo recently gave birth to a baby boy. The baby elephant named Max was active and healthy and had be spending the day running around and playing but that all changed in one scary moment. It looked like the little guy was laying down for a nap but concern in the zoo began to grow after he would not wake up. After the baby’s mother tried moving him with her trunk, he still would not respond. His mother thought that something was wrong with her child and began to try and find help from the zookeepers. The zookeepers were concerned about his health but suddenly someone they knew appeared and ran into help. What was wrong with Max the little elephant and did he ever wake up?
The Prague Zoo
In the summer of 2016, a video was posted on YouTube that had people all around the world feeling everyone emotion at once. The video was taken in a Zoo in Prague, Czech Republic and showed two Indian elephants. The zoo has a long history of housing elephants as they received their first two elephants in 1931. The zoo takes in over 1 million visitors every year, one of whom took the viral video on May 23rd.
A space to roam
The stars of the now famous video are Janita and her new baby boy, Max. Max’s father Mekong was at the zoo as well but he was not featured in the video. In the description of the video on YouTube, the writer explains that Max, “spends most of the day in outdoor areas running and frolicking around.” It looks like there is a lot of space for the elephants to roam around in.
The large elephant habitat in to Prague Zoo is called Elephant Valley and it was especially designed for the animals to have a lot of space to live together and enjoy their lives. The habitat officially opened in 2013 and it is the country’s biggest compound for elephants. It is also the home of the first Indian elephant to be both conceived and born in the Czech Republic. Max was born in April of 2016 so he was only one month old in the video.
An endangered species
The Prague Zoo is home to eight elephants named; Shanti, Mekong, Donna, Gulab, Tamara, Tonya, Janita and her baby Max. The elephant facility is intended to save the endangered Indian elephant and ensure that they do not become extinct. The zoo promotes breeding programs so that they can contribute to conserving certain animal species.
The Indian elephant is classified on the red list of endangered species by an international conservation group. Since the animals are in danger of losing their population, they was a lot of concern when baby Max seemed to be unwell. Visitors to the zoo the day the video was filmed were shocked to see what was going on in the elephant compound.
Will he get up?
In the video in question, we can see little baby Max lying on the ground following running around and playing. While he lies on the ground, Janita is standing beside her son and looks very nervous. While she is watching Max, he is makes odd movements and the people watching begin to worry for the little elephant. Why won’t he get up?
His body was twitching
The longer he lies on the ground, the more his body begins to twitch and move. Janita seems to be getting more and more distressed and looks on helpless. She begins to walk around and it appears that she might be looking for help. When no one responds, she returns to Max and keeps trying to wake him up. Unfortunately, Max does not seem to be responding.
His mother was panicked
After a while, when Janita touches Max with her trunk, he does not move at all. She seems to begin to panic after many moments of Max not moving. The stakes were rising and Max clearly needed help. Thankfully, help was soon to arrive as the zoo keepers leap into action. Janita seems to be worrying more as the minutes go by.
The zookeepers step in
Janita looks relieved as she sees the zoo keepers approaching her baby to help hum and walks with them toward Max. While the adults seemed very concerned over Max’s situation, Max looked calm throughout the whole ordeal and did not panic. The reason for this was about to become clear to everyone.
He won’t wake up
One zoo keeper steps in and begin to lightly move Max but to no avail. He puts his hand under Max’s body but he still does not move. After his attempts fail, the zoo keeper beings to worry and starts to nudge Max harder for some time before there is any response from the baby elephant.
A sigh of relief
The onlookers of the situation were starting to get worried and everyone was holding their breath. After a while of attempting to wake the elephant, the zoo keeper gets up and walks away with a smile on his face. All of a sudden, Max gets up and walks off as if nothing happened. The onlookers are audibly relieved once Max woke up as it seemed that disaster was avoided.
The video caused controversy
Since the video was uploaded online, millions of people have viewed it. The video was meant to be heartwarming, however, as is the case with many posts on social media, there was some controversy around the video. There were viewers who thought the video was sweet while others said it disturbed them and there was something menacing about the content.
Abusive or not?
While the zoo keepers went to help Max, the viewers noticed something odd about them. The zookeepers were holding implements including elephant goads and bull hooks. These are known in the animal activist world for being tools that hurt elephants and are often used to abuse elephants. Others claim that they are only used for training and are not always used to abuse the elephants.
There were fights between the commenters on the video. One commenter posted, “Why do they have those abusive hooks in their hands?” Another said, “The mother elephant didn’t get close because the humans are holding large metal hooks.” But were the zookeepers in Prague really using the tools to hurt the elephants or were they used for training?
While some commentators were claiming that the zookeepers were abusing the elephants, others were saying that they were merely precautionary tools. One commenter argued, “They have to carry hooks in case something should go wrong. Those are wild animals after all.” Another said that these were common items used in zoos everywhere. They said “Even at my zoo they must carry them… just for safety, and those elephants are tame as.”
A high rated zoo
The video created a debate about the use of these tools and it is still a debate that is occurring in amongst the animal rights world today. However, it is the case that some people have used bullhooks for abusive purposes in the past but there was no evidence that this is what the zookeepers at the Prague Zoo were doing. In fact, the zoo has a great reputation and was rated by Trip Advisor as the 4th best in the world.
Helping animals like Max
Due to the efforts of zoos such as the Prague Zoo, endangered animals like the Indian elephant have hope to remain as a growing species. These type of programs are helping to restore the animals and keep them away from becoming extinct. Now, more baby elephants like Max have a chance to live and thrive.
A worried parent
It appeared that Janita was just a worried parent and understandably called for help after her son would not get up. It seems that Max was just in a very deep sleep and did not want to wake up. Thanks to the help of the zoo keeper, Janita and the visitors to the zoo could put her worries at ease.
The description on the YouTube video explained everything when it said, “After a day’s ‘work’ sometimes [the calf] sleeps so soundly his mother can’t wake him up,” it continued on, “But the keepers are always there to help.” The video had a happy ending and we see the elephants and their keepers walking together around the enclosure. However, there was still controversy surrounding the video.
A close relationship
But why did Janita get so worried about her baby and was it normal? A group for animal advocacy based in New York says that an elephant mother and its calf have “the closest [bond] of any animal.” This is one of the reasons why animals feel they can relate to elephants. Like humans, elephants have strong relationships and connections with their family and friends.
The Indian elephant
The Indian elephant is a subspecies of the Asian elephant. These elephants are smaller than African elephants but still weigh between 4,400 and 11,000 pounds! The species lives in the mainland of Asia but has unfortunately become extinct in Pakistan. The species is facing habitat loss due to an expanding population in their homelands. This is why compounds like the one in the Prague Zoo are so important to keeping the species alive.