POCATELLO — If a person were drowning, human instinct would be to save the individual from losing the life. But what about a native yellow-bellied marmot?

    One lucky marmot was saved by the Pocatello Zoo’s elk, Shooter, late last week.

    Zoo Superintendent Scott Ransom said marmots are wild throughout the zoo, and in response to the incident, safety ramps will be installed into the larger drinking tanks to avoid other incidents in which Shooter might not be present to help.

    “This is the first time we’ve seen an animal in the water, let alone an animal rescue another animal,” Ransom said. “It’s hard to tell if he was helping or didn’t like the animal swimming in his water.”

    Ransom said volunteer Joy Fox grabbed her photography camera when she saw Shooter circling his water tank.

    She didn’t know what was going on, but watched for 15 minutes as Shooter dipped into the water and put his hoof in a few times. Shooter then pulled the marmot out by the head.

    Ransom said the marmot was dropped about a foot above the ground. Shooter then began to nuzzle the marmot. The marmot finally came to and scurried off.

    Since the story was released last week by a local news source, Google has tracked almost 2 million hits on the story. Ransom said he’s received multiple calls from newsrooms throughout the United States and a few foreign countries for information on the unique incident.