On July 11, Navy divers and wildlife officials teamed up to help guide an elephant to safety after he was spotted struggling in the ocean about 10 miles off the coast of Sri Lanka.
The naval troops were on a routine patrol near Kokkilai, on the country’s northeast coast, when they spotted the big guy fighting to stay afloat. A research officer with an area conservation group noted that Asian elephants are actually pretty good swimmers, so seeing one taking a dip in the ocean – even that far from shore – is not especially unusual.
But this particular elephant– who they named Alliya Plodder – was probably trying to swim across a lagoon when it was unexpectedly swept out to sea.
“They can’t keep swimming for long because they burn a lot of energy,” added the research officer, Avinash Krishnan.
Additional naval vessels were sent out once the patrol boat put out a call for assistance, and wildlife officials provided guidance to the divers throughout the 12-hour rescue operation.
Divers eventually were able to tie ropes around the elephant’s neck. The boat then gently towed him back to shore where he was handed over to wildlife officials.
Watch the incredible lengths these rescuers went to in the video below, and share!