This reminds me of an episode of the series Africa by David Attenborough where the mother leaves the herd and waits with her calf while it dies from starvation and dehydration. A number of people complained about the scene:
One viewer wrote on Twitter: ’That poor baby elephant and the poor mother having to watch her baby die! #tears had to stop eating my dinner. BBC #Africa warn me next time.’
Another added: ‘How heartbreaking watching the baby elephant calf die and the mother can only walk away. I’m in tears here.’
Thirty-two complaints were received, sixteen for the calf’s death, and another sixteen over the apparent use of emotive background music throughout the episode.
I really only have one thing to say here: nature is a pretty terrible place sometimes. Bad things happen. The job of a nature documentary is to show you the realities of this. Like the show’s producer said:
We are obviously concerned that some viewers have been upset,’ said [James] Honeyborne. ‘As soon as you look at an animal not as a species but as an individual, you do get drawn in and your empathy for that individual character will increase.
‘It is part of the process of looking deeper and creating that more immersive experience.’
One other thing, I thought we all knew that elephants mourn much like humans do? It’s not exactly a new concept.
Now this has reminded me of a really traumatic scene from a nature documentary. There’s a Nat Geo documentary called Leopards of Dead Tree Island. There’s a video here of the events immediately proceeding a cub breaking its pelvis after falling while climbing a tree, and it’s final interaction with its mother. I still find it incredibly sad, so watch at your own risk. The video also seems to autoplay once you open the page. I’m not sure how far through it is until the cub appears, I can’t actually watch it again.
Well that took an unexpected turn. Here’s photo of a not-dead baby elephant:
Nature: it’s a pretty nasty, cruel place, but it’s pretty awesome too.
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