Wallowing in the mud is great fun for young and old elephants. But when you’re still a baby, trying to stand up again in all that lovely slippery stuff when game time is over is a mammoth effort.
Just look at this adorable little guy. After fighting a losing battle to get back on his feet on his own that saw him land unceremoniously on his backside, there was only one thing to do: make a trunk call to his mother.
The baby’s trumpet for help was captured in these photos taken during a heavy rain shower in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya.
The African elephant, believed to be six months to one year old, had fallen over and was becoming ever more caked in mud as he thrashed around.
But it was not long before his mother came to the rescue and came closer so he could shelter under her massive body before making sure that his next attempt to get up – using her legs for support in the wet conditions – was successful.
Finally, he was upright again, and they could go together – but it wasn’t long before she sat down again for a relaxing bath herself and took a well-deserved break.
Wildlife photographer Andy Rouse captured the charming sequence of images while chasing migratory wildebeest.
“We saw a group of elephants go by pretty quickly,” he says. “When it rains, they know areas that will flood, and that is very suitable for rolling mud.”
They slipped right into that damp patch of ground and loved it. They were in the wallow for about 30 minutes. They like to frolic in the mud, and mud on their skin also protects them from the sun and insect bites.
“But getting up again can be a nightmare for the little ones. It took about five minutes. He made it after finding shelter between his mother’s legs.
Her legs gave him something solid to lean against, so he could stand up.
“It was hilarious to see and also a very nice and exceptional experience for everyone.”
African elephants, who live in the wild for up to 70 years, are slightly larger than their Asian cousins and are the largest land animals on Earth.
Having a baby is a severe commitment to elephants. Females typically give birth to a calf every two to four years after a pregnancy of 22 months, a longer gestation than any other mammal.
So if it takes a few extra minutes to get Junior out of the mud, it’s no wonder Mom is only too happy to wait.