Shooter the Elk was acting strangely. The elegant, longtime resident of Idaho’s Pocatello Zoo suddenly started exhibiting a behavior that the researchers and handlers at the zoo had never seen before. As you’ll see in the below sequence of photos, Shooter for some reason, repeatedly stuck his snout into a large pail full of water.

Shooter did not seem to be drinking. Dr. Joy Fox noticed this activity, that went on for quite some time. But the way the weird little incident ended was truly amazing — in fact, it was truly unbelievable. Unless you believe that animals feel the same compassion for other living beings that humans are capable of — more than some humans, even.

Here’s what happened — and at the end of the story, check out the video of Joy Fox discussing the incredible affair of Shooter the Elk.

Here’s what Dr. Fox saw at first: Shooter bobs his head into this water barrel.

What the heck was Shooter doing? Bobbing for apples? It wasn’t Halloween, so…

Things really got confusing when Shooter started testing the water
with his hoof — for 15 whole minutes.


And then he had a brainstorm! First with his antlers and then with his mouth,
he pulled something out the water pail.

It was this fuzzy little guy — a marmot!

The little marmot, a type of large squirrel, also lived in the zoo.

Somehow, the little guy got himself stuck in the water, and could have
drowned — if not for Shooter’s heroic actions.

Fox had no idea what Shooter would do with the little marmot — and then the
big elk set his new little friend on the ground where the traumatized critter
took all the time he needed to recover from his scary ordeal.

Here’s Dr. Fox talking about Shooter, the lifesaving elk.

What do you think? Can animals be heroes the same way people can?