A female elephant from a zoo in the Netherlands has become a mother to a healthy baby and has been allowed to keep it, despite the fact that she attacked her previous baby, breaking its back so badly that it needed to be put to sleep.
Female African elephant Duna, from the Ouwehands Zoo located in the city of Rhenen in the Netherlands, gave birth to a healthy male calf after a gestation period of 20 months earlier this week on 16th August.
In the past, Duna had unexpectedly attacked her then-newborn when it was only three days old which resulted in serious life-threatening consequences for the calf in 2018.
Since the young one ended up with a broken back and a spinal cord injury as a result of the attack, the zoo keepers had no other option but to put it down.
However, after elephant bull Tusker came to the Ouwehands Zoo from Germany as part of an international breeding program with the aim of keeping the African elephant population genetically healthy, Duna became pregnant again in November 2019.
After a gestation period of about 20 months, Duna gave birth to the perfectly healthy young calf at 1:10am at the African elephants’ enclosure and was supported by her buddy Tembo during the delivery.
The zoo reported that both the mother and the little one are feeling well, despite the birth happening earlier than expected as usually gestation period for elephants lasts somewhere between 22 and 23 months.
A spokesperson for the zoo said: “The first thirty minutes after the birth were just as exciting, but in the end the elephant stood up on its own.”
The baby elephant which has not been named yet was born in the outer part of the African elephants’ enclosure and has already showed a huge interest in its surroundings, reports the zoo.
In order to prevent the former incident from happening again, the Ouwehands zoo keepers decided not to clean the enclosure for a couple of days so that they “don’t have to lock them up together in one of the stables.”
In addition, they reported they have more space available inside and especially outside and added: “Because we don’t have a bull, one of the females uses the bull house. They also use the outdoor area a lot now because it’s summer. The previous calf was born in the winter.”
The African elephants are considered at heavy risk of extinction on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, as wild elephant numbers are declining because of habitat loss and fragmentation, and poaching for the illegal ivory trade which is a threat in several range countries.
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Story By: Georgina Jadikovska, Sub-Editor: James King, Agency: Newsflash
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