Horrified zookeepers were forced to intervene after a female elephant attempted to stamp her calf to death shortly after he was born.
The female elephant had stepped on baby Zhuangzhuang almost immediately after giving birth at a Chinese zoo on August 30.
But vets initially thought it was an accident. They removed the calf to treat his injuries and returned him to his mother two hours later – but she started to stamp on him again.
Keepers drove her off and took the little elephant away.
The rejected calf then reportedly cried for five hours as staff at the Shendiaoshan Wild Animal Natural Reserve Area, in Rongcheng, Shandong province, tried to comfort him.
He is now making good progress and has been adopted by a keeper.
‘The calf was very upset and he was crying for five hours before he could be consoled’, a spokesman said.
‘He couldn’t bear to be parted from his mother and it was his mother who was trying to kill him.
‘They have made a good bond. We don’t know why the mother turned on her calf but we couldn’t take a chance.’