Israelis in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and elsewhere around the country have spent much of the past 72 hours scrambling for cover as air raid sirens alerted them to incoming rockets. Video captured Wednesday from inside Israel’s Wildlife Safari park also makes it clear that the sirens have also alarmed zoo elephants, which have a remarkable sense of protecting their young.
The video – uploaded by a park employee and highlighted by Vocativ – shows four or five adult elephants rushing to surround their young at the first sound of an air raid siren. Trumpeting and forming a circle, the elephants take about 30 seconds to assemble around the little ones.
Elephants are the largest land animals on the planet, but they still fall prey to predators on the African savannah. To survive, elephants have developed intricate communication methods that include trumpeting, tail swinging, stomping and ear flapping.
Researchers know that elephants use cooperation to solve problems and that they can recognize other elephants after not seeing them for decades, according to National Geographic. Humans still know relatively little about the beasts, though, with lingering questions about why elephants seem to mourn a deceased member of the herd by sniffing and spreading its bones, for instance.
When elephants in the wild sense a lion or pack of hyenas in the area, protecting the younger elephants becomes the first priority. The group captured on film Wednesday obviously have no ability to understand that rockets were in the area, but the seriousness of the situation is highlighted at the video’s 1:50 mark, when a missile can be heard exploding nearby.
“Our elephants heard the siren, trumpeted and immediately gathered,” Safari spokesperson Ramat Gan explained to Vocativ. “They wrapped up little Latangy and Lalana and surrounded them, protecting them. After everything was over, they went back to their normal routines.”