Video captures birth of endangered Asian elephant at Chester Zoo

The video shows the elephant gently kicking her newborn to stimulate her

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The Independent Online

A zoo has released footage showing the moment an engendered Asian elephant gave birth to a calf.

Thi Hi Way, a 34-year-old elephant and experienced mother, gave birth to the female on Thursday 20 August, while she was surrounded by four other members of her family at Chester Zoo.

Zoo keepers said Thi’s delivery went “very smoothly” following a 22-month gestation.

Just three minutes after its birth at 2:38pm, the young female was up on its feet 

 


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Staff at the zoo used CCTV cameras to watch Thi's labour so as not to disturb the herd, according to Andy Mckenzie, team manager of elephants at the facility.

Footage shows Thi giving birth onto soft sand, as her curious family members lean in to see and smell the baby for the first time.

Seconds after giving birth, Thi’s maternal instincts prompt her to gently kick her newborn to stimulate her.

“The birth of a new elephant is a real family occasion and, as the labour progresses, all of the family unit really come together. They all knew that something was going to happen, especially the older elephants that have seen it all before,” McKenzie said.

“Thi is an experienced mum and the birth went very smoothly indeed.

“A birth in the group is a really positive experience for the animals and they get excited about the process. A lot of elephant behaviour is learnt and so it was great to see the younger individuals being around the birth and learning from the older cows in the family, particularly two-year-old Bala Hi Way who has never been around a birth before.

 

The zoo hopes the birth of the new calf will raise awareness of the species which is listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The facility is part of a breeding programme co-ordinated by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

In February, 12 members of Chester Zoo staff visited Assam in India to work on a zoo project to help the wild elephants in the state and those who live with them.

There are currently no more than around 50,00- Asian elephants left in the wild, according to WWF.

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