Elephant rescued at sea, nearly 10 miles from shore
Mariners are used to seeing whales, dolphins and sharks far from shore, but an elephant?
The large gray creature Sri Lankan navy sailors saw bobbing Tuesday in the waves of the Indian Ocean nearly 10 miles from the coast was an indeed an pachyderm, a fully grown Asian elephant, according to reports from the Washington Post, NPR and other media outlets.
While elephants are good swimmers due to their natural buoyancy and built-in snorkels (their trunks), this one was struggling mightily. If it had been swept out to sea as officials believe, the 10-mile swim appeared to have left it exhausted and distressed.
But saving a 5-ton elephant takes more than throwing a really big life preserver. The Sri Lankan navy and wildlife officials sent additional teams to the area in a massive rescue effort.
Divers swam to the beast, which they dubbed Jumbo, and tried to soothe it before attaching a tow rope. Over the next 12 hours, three vessels helped pull Jumbo to shore. Wildlife officials shepherded Jumbo from that point, according to the Sri Lankan navy.
Chaminda Walakuluge, a Sri Lankan navy spokesman, told Agence France-Presse the elephant was presumably caught in a rip current while crossing the Kokkilai lagoon, a coastal body of water wedged into jungle on either side.