A baby elephant has been rescued – by the nose – moments after his mother apparently tried to crush and drown him.

The drama took place just seconds after the baby was born in a zoo.

Pori, a 26-year-old African elephant, shocked onlookers by appearing to stamp on her new son.

She then began rolling him in her enclosure before putting him in water, in an apparent attempt to drown him. Visitors at Friedrichsfelde Animal Park in Berlin screamed to alert keepers, who lured Pori away from her child with bread and apples.

Members of the public then pulled the baby out of the water to safety.

He was given a tranquilliser and painkillers.

Amazingly, the baby was later reunited with his mother by zoo staff who said she had not been trying to kill him after all.

Although the mother killed her first baby in 2005 by accidentally crushing him, keepers think her behaviour yesterday was down to a failed bid to make the calf stand up.

Elephants usually nudge their young to help them take their first steps. Claus Pohle, deputy director of the zoo, said: ‘It only looked like she wanted to stomp him. All is well with Pori and her son. She is a proud and loving mother.’