Bison calves usually stay with their mothers until they can safely make it out in the wild on their own, but sometimes nature forces animals to grow up a little bit faster than they are supposed to.
This 7-day-old baby bison was following closely along with the herd, and more importantly its mother, when the group of bison decided that they needed to cross the Lamar River in Yellowstone National Park.
A snow melt from a higher elevation had caused the river to be flowing exceptionally faster than it normally would, and though it was no big deal for the 2,000 pound, fully-grown bison, smaller calves can often struggle to cross rivers.
The baby follows its mother, as it is supposed to do, and things immediately went sideways. The mother bison tried her best to keep her baby right beside her, but the current proved to be too strong, and it swept away the calf.
It took everything that the 7-day-old animal could muster just to tread water and not drown, and it eventually washed up down river on a gravel island. The calf was clearly exhausted from the swimming, and cold from the water, especially when the cool Yellowstone night fell.
In another example of “beating the odds,” the calf survives the night, though it is incredibly weak without having any sort of food for an extended period of time (especially after expending so much energy treading water).
The calf kept holding out hope, but it appeared that the herd kept moving on without it. After a while, the bison calf realized that it was stranded, and knew it was going to have to figure things out on its own.
The situation was already tough for the calf, but things went from bad to worse when a young wolf noticed the baby bison out on the gravel island. It quickly started to move in on the newborn animal, and as it did, geese in the area started calling out to warn other geese (and I guess the baby bison).
With the geese honking loudly, the wolf moved in fast on the calf and started to attack. Though the baby bison was probably spent, and incredibly young, its survival instincts kicked in and it began to fight back valiantly.
The wolf bit down on the calf’s neck and started tugging, and things were not looking good for the bison. However, it was clear that the wolf didn’t have a ton of experience bringing down prey, and was struggling with the small calf.
Even though the bison calf was outmatched, it continued to kick and battle with the wolf. Then, in a miracle, the wolf stopped going after the baby bison and turned its eyes away from the fight to an adult bison charging right at them.
Once it was clear that the reinforcements were on their way, the calf hilariously started acting tougher, and even charged at the wolf. In an unbelievable turn of events, the mother bison tracked down its lost offspring and came right in the nick of time to save it.
As soon as the larger bison reaches the island, the wolf backed away from calf and stood in disbelief. With the calf knowing that it now once again had its mom for protection, it quickly got to feeding on his mother’s milk, while the wolf laid down and probably rethought how it handled its attack.