Mama Zebra’s Reaction To Two Men Trying To Save Her Baby Goes Viral

Animal sanctuaries are essential to our understanding of the creatures that live alongside us. Observing these animals up close provides zoologists with a wealth of valuable information, and, hey, they’re also pretty amazing to look at, too! But zoos aren’t solely for our benefit — it’s here that animal lives are saved as well.

When it was time for one resident zebra at a Spanish zoo to give birth, zookeepers and guests alike rushed to the enclosure for a glimpse at the incredible miracle. But things quickly took a turn for the deadly, forcing the keepers to take drastic measures that nearly cost them their own lives as well…

The Valencia Bioparc in Spain is one of the country’s most popular animal attractions. The zoo boasts over 4,000 animals and an extensive collection of African fauna, though Bioparc is perhaps most well known for its unique habitat designs.

Bioparc places visitors into the animal habitats as opposed to the other way around; instead of railings and cages, natural barriers such as rivers, ponds, and streams separate guests from the animals.

The absence of metal cages may unsettle some visitors, yet these open environments have proved to be just as safe – if not safer – than standard zoo exhibits. Still, this Zooimersion complicated things when one of the park’s newest residents fell into trouble.

It all began in Bioparc’s zebra habitat, where a German-born mare named La Niña and a French colt named Zambé were first introduced. Sparks immediately flew between the two, and just a few months later, La Niña became pregnant.

Visit Valencia

After 13 months, La Niña went into labor in the fall of 2018. Zoo staff hurried to the exhibit to keep watch over the expecting mother, and a flock of Bioparc guests followed suit as soon as they caught wind.

Theme Park Guide

The birth was a quick one, and after a few short minutes, La Niña welcomed a healthy male foal into the world. But no sooner was the umbilical cord gone than the baby zebra did something unexpected.

Bioparc Valencia / YouTube

He stood up! In the wild, it’s common for a zebra foal to stand within the first 15 minutes of its life due to the threat of predators. This newborn was more than eager to explore his new world, though this eagerness would nearly prove fatal for the minutes-old foal…

As the young zebra tottered on new legs, he began inching dangerously close to the enclosure’s watering hole. La Niña tried to stop her newborn, but it was too late — splash! The foal tumbled headfirst into the water.

BioparcValencia / Dailymotion

The guests had a good laugh over the clumsy misstep, yet little did they know the incredible danger the baby zebra was in. With La Niña exhausted from giving birth, she was unable to muster the energy to save her foal. The newborn was going to drown.

Metro

As the foal sank beneath the surface, the watching zookeepers immediately sprung into action. Scaling the rocks of the enclosure, they slipped down into the watering hole and hurriedly swam toward the struggling zebra. But things wouldn’t be so easy.

BioparcValencia / Dailymotion

Even in her exhausted, panicked state, La Niña wasn’t going to let anyone near her newborn, especially a pair of humans. So as the zookeepers approached, the mother zebra prepared to attack.

BioparcValencia / Dailymotion

Luckily, the zookeepers had been trained for moments like this and remained calm even in the face of such imminent danger. They snatched up the squealing foal, all the while splashing at La Niña to keep her at bay.

BioparcValencia / Dailymotion

But this tactic did little to scare off the protective mother, who had somehow gathered enough strength to enter the water in pursuit of her baby. The zookeepers were just moments away from being trampled when something miraculous happened.

BioparcValencia / Dailymotion

She stopped. Apparently, La Niña had sensed that the zookeepers weren’t looking to harm her or her baby and decided not to pursue them. With peace made between the three, the zookeepers pulled the foal from the water and placed him back onto dry land.

BioparcValencia / Dailymotion

La Niña rushed to her baby’s side, cleaning the newborn as he sat and caught his breath. Cheers rang out from all sides of the enclosure as the guests helped the zookeepers out of the exhibit, thankful that the two men were there to help.

BioparcValencia / Dailymotion

But perhaps the loudest cries of joy were shouted out for the foal, who was back up and walking moments later as if nothing had happened. It was easy to see the onlookers had already fallen in love with the baby zebra, and before long, the whole world would, too.

Videos of the daring zebra rescue soon made the rounds online, with millions of people relieved to see the foal had survived the frightening ordeal. Just a few weeks after Bioparc posted their own recap of the event online, their video received over 60,000 views!

Official Press

Journalists were also eager to hear and tell of the survival story, with some joking the newborn should be called “Milagros,” or “Miracle” in Spanish. The zookeepers wound up loving the idea and went on to name him “Milagritos” — Little Miracle.

BIOPARC Valencia / Twitter

Once a few months old, Milagritos adapted well to life at Bioparc, though he made sure to never stray too far from his mother. And if there was one thing the young zebra likely learned from his fall in the water, it’s this — always wear your water wings!

BIOPARC Valencia / Twitter

However, Milagritos’ case is a rare one, as most animals don’t get so lucky when things take a turn for the worse, especially in the wild. Fortunately, like the zookeepers at Bioparc Valencia, there are plenty of wildlife advocates out there prepared to help these animals in their time of need.

WanderBaums

For instance, Dr. Vicki Fishlock fell in love with African elephants as a kid. It was her life’s dream to work with the beasts, and in 2011, she pursued a study of elephants at Kenya’s Amboseli National Park.

Constant Contact

Dr. Fishlock joined the Amboseli Elephant Research Project (AERP), an organization stationed in the national park created to study its thousands of free-ranging elephants. There, she had a goal.

Safina Center

 Study the impact of Kenya’s fierce drought on the local elephants. But in October of 2012, Dr. Fishlock’s research thrust her into the heart of a dangerous situation.

It was early in the morning when she received word a baby elephant had fallen into a well somewhere out in the park. Worse, herders would soon arrive at the well to water their cattle—which complicated matters.

Africa Research Online

If the herders reached the well first, they’d likely scare away the baby elephant’s mother. If herders chased the mother off, the baby would be as good as dead.

AmboseliTrust / YouTube

So Dr. Fishlock and two team members hopped into a jeep and sped to the well, hoping as they drove the mother hadn’t been chased away. They arrived to a scene more complicated than they’d anticipated.

To their relief, the mother elephant, Zombe, lingered around the well, panicked as her baby fought for purchase on the slopes of the muddy well. But she was scared—and aggressive.

AmboseliTrust / YouTube

Elephants are the strongest land mammals on the planet, capable of lifting up to 600 pounds with just their trunks. And this strong, protective mamma? Well, she wasn’t about to let anyone near her struggling baby.

Zombe’s presence made the rescue impossible: stepping out of the jeep and near that baby would put her and her crew’s lives in danger. For the calf’s sake, it would be Dr. Fishlock, terrible as it sounded, that scared the mother off.

Constant Contact

The AERP rescue team drove the jeep at the mother, taunting her with a collision. Still, Zombe stayed by her baby’s side, despite fearing the jeep…so Dr. Fishlock screamed at her like a banshee. 

AmboseliTrust / YouTube

Chased by sharp, high-pitched calls and a loud jeep engine, Zombe turned and fled. Now the AERP team had to rescue the baby before the mother ran too far away. But could they?

Their rudimentary rescue plan followed three steps: Step one, tie a rope to the jeep’s bumper; step two, loop the rope around the baby’s butt; step three, reverse the jeep and pull the baby out. Sounds easy enough, no?

But, as Dr. Fishlock put it, “We were so delighted [Zombe’s calf] is so big and fat and healthy…until we had to pull her out of a hole.” The two men fighting rescue her struggled against her weight and strength. 

Because the baby was trying to get away and back to her mother the rescuers couldn’t loop the rope around her backside. The scared-and-cranky elephant wasn’t interested in being turned, either.

AmbroseliTrust / YouTube

Still, with enough coaxing, the baby elephant turned, letting the two rescue workers loop the rope around her. As they worked to secure rope she cried and roared. Baby was not happy.

Haley Collins / Flickr

Finally, the men secured the rope around the baby elephant and gave Dr. Fishlock a signal. She mashed the accelerator, sending the jeep flying backward and pulling on the stuck calf.

In seconds, the calf popped out of the well (knocking over one of the rescue workers in the process)! The poor girl didn’t stick around to celebrate, however—she had another mission in mind…

AmboseliTrust / YouTube

The second the calf had her bearings, she sprinted away from Dr. Fishlock and her rescuers, towards her scared-away mother. Dr. Fishlock followed, hoping to guide the calf in the right direction…

AmboseliTrust / YouTube

The calf ran and ran across the dry, drought-stricken plains. After a long run, with dust swirling around them, the two reunited in a magical, heavenly moment! Aww!

AmboseliTrust / YouTube

Watch the video below to see the baby elephant’s all-out sprint for her mother, followed by the heart-melting moment where they reunite. You’ll want to thank Dr. Fishlock and her team for making the moment possible!

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