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Get the tissue boxes ready.

Me-Bai, a kidnapped elephant, is now safe and free after years of exploitation in captivity, and a touching video shows her reuniting with her mother. 

Me-Bai's story starts when she was taken from her mother Mae Yui at just a few years old, being forced into a life of slavery. 

She was then subjected to a "training crush," a ritual where elephants are often shackled and abused until their spirit is literally broken. Horrifying!

Me-Bai was then sold off to a camp where paying customers could ride her as part of Thailand's elephant tourism industry. 

"Imagine her many nights filled with panic and fear, a child alone, injured and confused; for three and half years she stood in the rain and the sun without her mother; for three and a half years she entertained the human need for subservience," wrote sanctuary founder Lek Chailert.

Me-Bai suffered externally and internally, as she became depressed from the abuse and stopped eating, soon becoming too thin to be valuable to her captors. 

But don't worry... this story does have a happy ending.

The little elephant was able to retire early and given to rescuers from Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary for pachyderms, where she began the process of healing after years of pain. 

As the staff began to nurse her back to good physical health, they also wanted to help track down her mother. Mae Yui was at another tourist camp more than 100 kilometers away, and Chailert was able to convince the elephant's owners to allow the two to see each other. 

Baby Me-Bai had no idea she was going to see her mother, but after four days of hiking... this happened. 

"When Mae Yui and MeBai met, it seemed both of them were shocked and they held quiet, silent for half an hour," Chailert wrote.

"And then they began to talk, MeBai and her mother joining trunks, hugging each other and talking non-stop, three and half years of catching up."

Mae Yui's owners agreed to release the mother from captivity, meaning she and her baby could be rehabilitated together. The sanctuary hopes to one day return the two back into the wild. 

"Now [Me-Bai] enjoys the companionship of her mother — she feels like the little baby again," wrote Chailert. "She feels safe when she sleeps because her mother stands over her. She sleeps deeply and snores loud in the jungle. [Sometimes] she wakes up and tries to drink milk from her mother's breast. It is such a beautiful moment."

 

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Babies are some of the most loveable, huggable creatures on Earth. Lions, on the other hand, aren’t. But that doesn’t stop this fashionable little tyke from trying!

This little one and his family were visiting a lion enclosure at the El Paso Zoo when he met Zari, a seven-year-old lioness. The baby squeals in delight as he taps on the (hopefully very thick) glass, prompting Zari to start pawing right back at him.

The adorable and somewhat nerve-wracking exchange goes on for about a minute. Luckily, neither one of them succeed at their attempted hug, and the baby lets out a victory yell.

Since no babies or lions were injured in the making of this video, we’ve deemed it safe to watch. However, Craig Packer of the Lion Research Center at the University of Minnesota, says the baby and his family were lucky to have the lion behind glass.

"Some of the lions look quite playful in their attempts," he told Slate. "Sometimes lions and cheetah will spend several minutes playing with wildebeest calves or gazelle fawns before finally chomping them." He also said that "predators generally treat calves/fawns/babies differently from adults because they are such easy prey; there’s no real chance of escape, so what’s the hurry?"

If you’re brave enough to watch, check out the video below. Spoiler alert: the baby and his cute outfit do not get gobbled up. 

 Photo Credit: YouTube

IF-SHARKS-HAD-SOCIAL-MEDIACelebrate Shark Week with this generation’s way of getting to know each other.

When my family took a 2-week vacation down the Gulf Shores in Alabama, my mother sat petrified on the sandy beach. She feared creatures under the sea might find us as prey.

A week after we drove back home, shark attacks were reported along the same coastline we had visited.

Pup-681-Needs-A-New-NameIt's finally time to officially name Shedd Aquarium's Pup 681! The adorable baby sea otter who won hearts around the globe with her cuteness came to the Shedd Aquarium last month in partnership with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Program. In case you needed reminding of just how cute she is, check out this video of her that got over 3,300,000 million views:

Now the aquarium has teamed with ABC’s Good Morning America to select a name for the baby pup. Anyone can vote for their favorite name here until December 11 at 3pm EST. Pup 681's new name will be released on December 12!

The choices are...

Cali: In honor of the California otter

Ellie: Año Nuevo State Park is well-known for its elephant seals and Elkhorn Slough is right up the coast from Monterey and home to many sea otters

Luna: From nearby Half Moon Bay

Poppy: California State Flower

Aña or Anya: From Año Nuevo State Park

Vote for your favorite choice! And while you wait for Pup 681's new name to be announced on December 12, check out a video of her learning how to dive: 

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