Israelis weren't the only ones scurrying as rocket sirens wailed on Thursday morning. The African elephants at the Ramat Gan Safari park were caught on film reacting instantly: raising the alarm by trumpeting and hurrying to cluster together, with the adults shielding the babies in the middle.
The unique footage was taken by Guy Kfir, manager of the petting zoo, which is right by the elephant enclosure. He happened to be walking by it when the sirens began and serendipitously caught the family's reaction on film.
The elephant family at the park, formally known as the Zoological Center of Tel Aviv, has six members: Motek the dominant male, Varda the dominant female, La Petite, La Belle and two babies, year-old Latangi and Lalana, 10 months old.
"The adults called to La Petite, who's usually on the margins of the group. She's something of a social reject," says Sagit Horowitz, Safari spokeswoman.
La Petite hurries up and the clearly agitated adults huddle around the babies, "as if guarding them," says Horowitz. The other members of the group include Motek, the dominant male, and La Belle another daughter of La Petite.
It is unlikely that the elephants realize the nature of the danger, of course. And they weren't the only ones observed reacting to sirens. "The chimps were in their night house and started to call," says Horowitz.
While their reaction hadn't been observed in this conflict, during Operation Pillar of Defense, the lions, who had been given food, stopped eating and froze just before the sirens actually sounded. "We thought they sensed something," says Horowitz. Or perhaps they simply heard the sirens milliseconds earlier, with their different spectrum of hearing.
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