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Elephant out for a swim gets emergency rescue at sea

July 13, 2017 at 6:15 PM EDT
In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, Navy teams around the globe are often called in to assist in rescue efforts. But this week, one maritime mission in the Indian Ocean helped a unique creature in need.
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NewsHour shares web small logoIn our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to a NewsHour shares, something that caught our eye, that might be of interest to you, too.

Navy teams around the globe are often called in to assist in rescue efforts. But, this week, one maritime mission in the Indian Ocean helped a unique creature in need.

The NewsHour’s Julia Griffin explains.

JULIA GRIFFIN: It was a routine patrol for a Sri Lankan naval team Tuesday morning, when they spotted something unusual bobbing among the ocean waves, not a bird or a boat, but rather a fully grown Asian elephant, struggling to stay afloat nearly 10 miles offshore.

Elephants are some of the best swimmers of land mammals, thanks to buoyant bodies and trunks that can be used as snorkels, but this pachyderm appeared fatigued and distressed.

Officials believe the animal had been trying to cross the Kokkilai Lagoon off the country’s northeast coast when it was swept out to sea. Deciding to intervene, the Navy and Department of Wildlife dispatched additional teams to the area, initiating a mammoth-sized rescue effort.

The divers plunged into the salty water to soothe the elephant and loop a tow rope around its body. Over the next 12 hours, they gently towed Jumbo, as it was affectionately dubbed, back to the Sri Lankan coast. And as day turned to night, rescue teams reached their destination, releasing Jumbo exhausted but alive into the shallow water.

For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Julia Griffin.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What a happy ending. And who knew that elephants could swim?

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