Elephants Shield Calf From Gaza Rockets at Israel Zoo

A group of female elephants at an Israeli zoo were filmed shielding a calf last week as air-raid alarms played overhead, amid the most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The footage, shared to Facebook on Friday by the Ramat Gan Safari in Tel Aviv, Israel, showed five female elephants at the zoo huddling around a 14-month-old calf called Pele.

While the sirens sounded and explosions could be heard nearby, the five female elephants stayed in a huddled position around the calf, attempting to protect it from the possible danger.

A woman could be heard in the video saying "f***" while the blasts were audible in the background, as the elephants stood still huddled around Pele.

Zookeeper Guy Kfir told Ynetnews that the behaviour seen from the elephants in the footage is "very normal" for the animals in nature when they feel like they or their calves can be harmed.

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"When they sense danger, they gather their young in the center, encircle them and act as some sort of a protective shield," Kfir said.

"In the video, you can see that each of them faces a different direction to protect the calf and watch out for any incoming danger."

He said that the protective circle formed by the elephants can also be witnessed at the zoo on memorial days when sirens are played to indicate the start of a minute of silence.

Kfir explained that the behaviour is also exhibited when one of the animals at the zoo gives birth, as they will gather around the mother in order "to be her eyes and protection."

Ramat Gan Safari houses at least 68 species of mammals on its 250-acre site, including African and Asian elephants, gorillas and orangutans.

Violence between Israel and Hamas, an Islamist Palestinian militant group, escalated on May 10.

Several air strikes and rockets were exchanged until 21 May, when a ceasefire was agreed after 11 days of violence.

At least 230 Palestinians, including 65 children were killed during the latest conflict, as 12 people in Israel died, including two juveniles, according to the Associated Press.

The ceasefire was called following pressure from other states, including from the U.S., who initially backed Israel's actions, but then put pressure on the country to cease the bombings.

Newsweek has contacted Ramat Gan Safari for comment.

Elephants huddle calf Israel rockets
Recently born elephant calf 'Jack' walks near his mother 'Nina' in their enclosure at the animal park 'Le PAL' at Dompierre-sur-Besbre, central France on May 22, 2021. A group of female elephants in an Israeli zoo were filmed shielding a calf last week as air-raid alarms played overhead amid the most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas. Thierry ZOCCOLAN/AFP