A video uploaded by a traveler who goes simply by her first name, Elena, has managed to draw over 6.8 million views since it was uploaded. That’s partly because it’s fascinating and adorable – an elephant calf is trying to cross the road with its mother but can’t bring itself to trudge through the divot full of water along the side. It’s unclear where the video takes place, but these are African elephants and some of the most popular places for elephant-viewing safaris are Botswana, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. Both Elena and her driver (as well as the oncoming driver) are safe and respectful, viewing the animals from inside their vehicles. But everyone is fascinated by the sight of the stubborn calf.
The tiny elephant looks to be about the size of a German shepherd, which is small for an elephant. The baby and his mother are traveling with other elephants in a herd. There are perhaps ten other elephants in the crowd, including adults and juveniles, and they all cross the narrow, muddy stream with no problem. Although the stream in the video is tiny, really not much more than a roadside ditch. The puddle is just that – it’s certainly not a water ʜᴀᴢᴀʀᴅ. Nevertheless, this little elephant is not interested in traversing it to get across the road.
An adult elephant tries everything from pushing him along with her trunk to trying to corral him under her body and move him forward with her legs to get him to move. But no dice. And elephants are known to be good mothers, so she’s incredibly patient, especially since her calf really does seem afraid. In this video, the mother is remarkably patient with her calf. She never tries to force him across, and her body language never shows anger or frustration. She stays with him, gently urging him to cross so they can go on with the rest of the herd. The mother stays by his side, even though she could cross the shallow creek at any time. She knows her son can do it, and she also knows he will have to get used to crossing streams and larger rivers.
The mother tries to nudging the young elephant, but he still will not budge. Most mothers know all too well what it’s like when a child stubbornly refuses to do something meaningful. Was the baby scared, or did he prefer the side of the river he was on? Did he think something would happen to him if he went in the water?
Female elephants often help each other rear calves, so this mom does get a hand from another member of the herd – though that’s not worth much in the end. It’s pretty clear that both adults are trying to demonstrate how to cross the road without ꜰᴇᴀʀ and hoping to get across the point that a little puddle never hurt anyone. But baby elephant seems to think that getting its feet wet is the ᴡᴏʀsᴛ thing ever. Apparently, there’s just no reasoning with a toddler of any species!
It virtually climbs up onto its mom as if to beg not to go. But, hey, we all have to learn to cross a puddle successfully at some point. And mom has picked this as a teachable moment. Finally, after what seems like an ᴇᴛᴇʀɴɪᴛʏ, he manages to overcome the ᴏʙsᴛᴀᴄʟᴇ and get to the other side – although how he does it remains a ᴍʏsᴛᴇʀʏ as the exact moment he crosses is sadly when the camera cuts away. The video concludes with the mother and calf walking off across the dirt track to join the rest of the herd.
This is a cute video, and also a reminder of how important it is to be patient and never give up. The mother couldn’t force her calf to do anything, but she knew ʟᴏsɪɴɢ ʜᴇʀ ᴛᴇᴍᴘᴇʀ would not help. She certainly was not going to leave him, because that would be unacceptable behavior for an elephant.