Saturday, January 16, 2010

Second Elephant Born in an Australian Zoo

Historic baby elephant born in Aussie zoo

IT'S a girl! Dokkoon delivered a healthy baby early this morning to give Melbourne Zoo its first baby elephant.

She is only the second elephant born in Australia, and entered the world safely at 1.10am after keeping Melbourne waiting on tenterhooks for more than a week.

                                                          2008 - Melbourne Zoo

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Melbourne Zoo Director Kevin Tanner said he was extremely proud of the team.

“From the time the veterinarians conducted the successful artificial insemination, during the outstanding care provided over the 22-month pregnancy, to the historic birth early this morning, our staff have shown tremendous commitment and expertise," he said.

“While we are all thrilled with the safe arrival, there has been no time for celebrations. The calf was alert and active from birth, and since then the dedicated elephant team have been focussing on allowing mother and baby time to recover from the birth and to establish a bond.

“It is vital that they have time to themselves, so we need to ask the community to be patient and understand why Dokkoon and baby are not on display as yet.

“They will remain in the barn for a while until the vets and curators are comfortable that they are ready to go outdoors.”

Dokkoon, 16, had been expected to give birth in the elephant barn surrounded by the other females Mek Kapah, 36, Kulab 10, and Num-Oi, 8, so they could support her and learn about the birth process.

Zoo keepers and vets, who have been joined by German expert Dr Thomas Hildebrandt, planned to watch the labour via CCTV cameras and only intervene if needed.

Two trusted keepers were expected to be by her side and her best friend, Mek Kapah, in the stall next door watching and communicating with her.

The keepers would now be helping the baby to stand, as its aunties in the wild would, and continue to support the bonding.

In the wild, most elephants are born at night, which allows their eyes time to adjust and get their legs moving so they can join the herd the next day.

Elephant curator Jan Steele said Dokkoon would make a good mother, as she loved talking to the other elephants and her keepers: "She's got a great personality

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