It isn't often you see images like these! An elk saved a drowning marmot from his water trough, and you have to look at the way the elk solved the problem to understand how.
At first the elk, named Shooter, appeared to be dipping his face and nose in to the trough in an unusual way. Zoo staff at Pocatello Zoo in Idaho weren't too concerned but did find the behaviour strange.
Then Shooter tried to dunk his head in the trough and keepers really wondered what was wrong. His antlers were too big to fit in the trough and he had to work out what to do next.
So Shooter started dipping his paws in, a seemingly bizarre action, but it turned out to have been part of a scheme to get a drowning marmot in to the middle of the trough so that he could get hold of it.
And here we see Shooter gently taking the dripping rodent out of the trough. Will this have a happy ending?
Kate O'Conner, Pocatello's education co-ordinator said
“Shooter is such a huge animal – he stands at six feet tall without his antlers, which are another four feet – and he's pretty scary," said Kate O'Conner, Pocatello's education co-ordinator.
“Some of the staff don't like going in his enclosure with him – he's punctured car tires with his antlers before, so to see him being so gentle with a little animal was heart-warming. We all know he's a real character, but I think he must have a soft side we didn't know about.”
Shooter gently placed the marmot down, wet and bedraggled but happy to be out of the water. He saw a problem, he planned, he solved the problem. Better than some of our politicians!
Zoo director Steve Ransom did want me to let everyone know that they have now placed wildlife ramps in the troughs so animals can get in and out without fear of drowning. Shooter has also shed his antlers. They will be auctioning them on eBay next week to raise funds for a new natural grizzly bear exhibition at Pocatello Zoo.