Taronga Zoo’s Miracle Baby Elephant
Taronga Zoo keepers were amazed when, after an intensive and complicated 6 day labor, a live but weak male Asian elephant calf was born. The surprise came as two days earlier, due to there being no evident signs of life, zoo officials believed the baby had died in the womb. An ultrasound showed the calf to be in an upside down position, making birth impossible.
Zoo officials believed the calf may have lapsed into a coma due to its unconscious state and the fact that it did not display any of the five signs used to indicate life. Zookeepers rushed to assist the mother and hefty baby as soon officials realized that the infant was alive.
The calf’s mother, 18-year-old Porntip, is the matriarch of the Taronga elephant herd. She was artificially inseminated 22 months ago, a process that even the experts admit is a very inexact science.
Elephants are a mysterious mammal, and much is still to be learned about them. Keepers have placed both baby and mother in a special heated enclosure away from the public’s view where they will receive intensive care and monitoring for the critical first hours and days following the birth. Although the unnamed male calf is doing well so far, his future is a delicate and uncertain one. No guarantees can be made as to whether he will survive.
After such a long and complicated birth, mother Porntip is reported to be doing very well, and taking the role of motherhood in stride. She is touching her new baby very gently with her trunk, trying to encourage him to suckle. As yet he has been unsuccessful but has managed to drink several liters of colostrum, a milk produced by mammals that is rich in protein and antibodies that are vital in the first few hours of life to protect the baby elephant against disease. The calf managed, in between naps, to take his first steps by lunchtime on Wednesday.