And we think we know animals, Chapter 5,974

& Aesop told us about the lion and the mouse, and how one good turn deserves another.

Now we get the story of the massive elk and the little marmot. This one’s too good to pass up. Stay with me, here, don’t go running off to Snopes to see if this is for real. Pictures will follow.

It’s the story of Shooter, an six-foot high elk in the Pocatello Zoo whose mighty rack of antlers tops out at the height of a basketball hoop — a big fella who in the wild would make hunters drool all over their orange vests. In the zoo he makes his keepers nervous. And why not? His antlers, it is said, have even been lowered from their ten-foot height and punctured car tires.

But he’s apparently mostly bull and no bite.

The reason that we’re learning about shooter is one day — not very long ago, I’d guess — the zookeepers were intrigued to see him dipping first his hooves, and then his head, down into the two-foot high water trough, rather like he was bobbing for apples.

But, the amazed zookeepers soon found out, it wasn’t an apple bobbing. It was a marmot that had probably fallen into the tank trying to get a drink, and, unable to get up the slick sides of the water trough, was probably drowning. Shooter, who had probably used his hooves and antlers to nudge the marmot away from the side of the water tank, picked the marmot out of the water with his massive mouth and, instead of ending the story with a single crunch, ever so gently laid the little critter down in the dirt.

“It was so sweet,” said a lady witness.

Scooter then nudged the little guy with his hoof. The marmot stirred, got its bearings, and scooted (you might say) off into the rest of its life, wherever that might lead. And if he’s anything like Aesop’s lion, he might hang around and return a favor, one day, for Scooter.

Doubt it? Here’s some evidence:

Wondering if my dogs and horses talk about me when I’m not around, I’m outta here.

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