Herd immunity

Israeli zoo video shows elephants protecting calf in rocket attack

In clip from Ramat Gan Safari, group of females crowd around young animal as sirens wail with the sound of rocket explosions in the background

Screen capture from video of elephants at the Ramat Gan Safari responding during a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip, May 2021. (Facebook)
Screen capture from video of elephants at the Ramat Gan Safari responding during a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip, May 2021. (Facebook)

A video released by the Ramat Gan Safari shows how a herd of elephants formed a protective circle around a young calf during a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip last week.

In the clip, published Friday, sirens warning of incoming rockets can be heard in the background.

The elephants immediately cross their enclosure to stand around Pele, a 14-month-old calf.

As the video continues, rockets from the Iron Dome air defense system can be heard whooshing into the sky followed by the sounds of loud explosions, either intercepts or possibly Gaza rockets impacting the ground.

While the elephants seem unperturbed, an alarmed woman can be heard repeatedly saying “Fuck” during the rocket attack.

עדר הפילות האסייאניות בזמן אזעקה

???? בסרטון נשמעת אזעקה ????בסרטון המרגש נראה עדר הפילות האסיאניות שלנו צועד בשורה בזמן אזעקה, עד שכולן נעצרות ועומדות מסביב לפלא הקטן בן השנה ומגוננות עליו.ההתנהגות הזו מרגשת אותנו אבל היא מאוד אופיינית לפילים שהם בעלי חיים שחיים ביחד כמשפחה מלוכדת ומגוננת.בימים אלו אנו מקפידים לשמור על שגרה קבועה אצל בעלי החיים, במהלך היום הם שוהים בחצר הנעימה והמוכרת ובמהלך הלילה בתוך בתי הלילה העשויים מבטון.צילום: מיכל לוי

Posted by ‎ספארי רמת גן Ramat Gan Safari‎ on Thursday, May 20, 2021

Guy Kfir, head elephant keeper at the safari, said the behavior is “very natural for elephants in the wild.”

“When they feel in danger they concentrate the calves into the center, surround them, and make a sort of ‘protective wall,'” he said.

Screen capture from video of elephants at the Ramat Gan Safari responding during a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip, May 2021. (Facebook)

Kfir said the same thing happens on Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day and Remembrance Day when sirens are sounded to indicate the start of a minute of silence.

In a similar way, elephants will also gather around a mother while giving birth “to be her eyes and protection,” he said.

Kfir explained that the behavior during the siren is likely due to elephants having much better hearing than people, and their ability to detect seismic vibrations through their feet.

“When something happens in the ground, even at a distance of kilometers, they notice this and translate the occurrence as a possible danger,” Kfir said.

The elephants were facing a real threat. A week earlier a rocket hit the safari, injuring a monkey.

Damage after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the Ramat Gan Safari, May 15, 2021 (Screen grab/Ynet)

A crested black macaque was found to be hurt with what were initially thought to be unrelated injuries; however, X-rays later showed that the primate had been hit with shrapnel from the rocket.

Dr. Yigal Horowitz, chief veterinarian at the animal park, said the monkey underwent surgery to remove the shards.

The same barrage, fired at central Israel by terrorists from the Gaza Strip, killed a man in his 50s at his nearby home.


A ceasefire that began early Friday brought to an end 11 days of fighting during which Palestinian terrorists fired over 4,300 rockets from Gaza at Israel which responded with intensive airstrikes on terrorist infrastructure in the Hamas-controlled enclave.

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