The Heartwarming Story of An Elephant and Her Baby Getting Rescued From a Manhole


We don’t normally think of elephants as animals in need of rescuing. After all, these animals are so massive that there are very few things in nature that can harm them. Baby elephants, however, are a different story altogether.

Recently, a baby elephant and its mother needed to get rescued from a manhole. How did the manhole end up trapping both these elephants, and what kinds of superhuman efforts were needed to free both of them? Keep reading to find out!

It all took place in Thailand

When you first hear about elephants getting trapped in a manhole, your first thought might be that this somehow took place in an urban environment such as New York City. However, the manhole in question was a roadside drainage hole, and this story begins in Thailand, very far from America.

Specifically, the entire incident went down in central Nakhon Nayok. Certainly, elephants are a more common sight in that part of the world. However, two elephants who need to get rescued at the same time is a very surprising sight no matter where you live!

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The weather makes things worse

Make no mistake: rescuing a baby elephant and its mother from a roadside drainage hole would have been very difficult in any circumstance. In this case, though, rescue workers had to contend with something that made rescuing thousands of pounds of elephant that much worse: heavy fain.

The entire time that these workers strove to rescue the two elephants, rain was pouring down fiercely. That ended up making the mud they were working in extra slippery. In short, the entire situation was made more precarious by the weather, and the only thing that surprised locals more than the weather was the set of circumstances that led to this unexpected animal rescue.

How did all of this happen in the first place?

You might think that an adult elephant is smart enough and experienced enough to avoid falling into roadside drainage holes, and you would be partially right. In this case, the mother didn’t fall in right away. Instead, it all started when her baby elephant fell into the ditch while the two of them were walking together.

As you may already know, mother elephants are fiercely protective. Because of that, Mama Elephant’s maternal instincts kicked in and she immediately began to stand guard over where her calf had fallen in. Unfortunately, this ended up making things go from bad to worse in very short order. 

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The mother went from rescuing to needing rescue

When rescue workers first arrived on the scene, they had something of a conundrum to deal with. They knew they needed to get the baby elephant out of the hole, but they also knew that if they approached, it would likely anger the mother. Therefore, they decided to sedate the mother before trying to rescue the calf.

On paper, that’s a very good plan. However, the last thing anyone expected was for the sedated mother elephant to fall into the hole as well. This made the entire rescue more urgent because the rescuers now had twice as many animals to save, and the second one was considerably larger than the first.

Two teams worked hard on the rescue

In order to save the two elephants, the rescue workers split into two teams. One team concentrated on saving the mother elephant: they did so by first using a truck-mounted boom lift to get her out of the hole. After that, they attempted CPR to revive her.

Meanwhile, the other team focused on saving the baby elephant. To do so, they had to use a digger to clear away enough slippery mud to rescue the calf. To make things worse, the calf was freaking out the entire time!

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Hours of tense waiting

It’s not every day or even every lifetime that you see a rescue scenario like this play out. Understandably, as the rescue workers did their best to save the lives of these two animals, locals began anxiously watching what was happening in hopes of a happy outcome.

Unfortunately, they had to wait a very long time. It took over three hours for the rescuers to finish their work, and spectators spent the entire time wondering if it would be possible to save both animals. 

At last, a happy ending

The good news for the spectators and the elephants in question is that the rescue operation was a spectacular success. The baby elephant was reunited with its mother and immediately began suckling on her for comfort once it got close. As for the mother, she regained consciousness just fine, and it wasn’t long before she and her child headed back out into the wilderness.

Khao Yai National Park Department vet Dr. Chananya Kanchanasarak would later say that it was one of the team’s “most memorable rescues.” From where we’re standing, it’s certainly hard to argue with that assessment of this absolutely crazy rescue!

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