In the world of zoology, twin elephants are an infrequent occurrence. These majestic creatures are known for their intelligence, emotional complexity, and social bonds with their herd. So when the first recorded twin elephants were born in a zoo, it caused quite a stir.
Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York, USA, has announced that an Asian elephant has successfully given birth to male twins. Twins account for only 1% of all elephant births worldwide.
The mother elephant, named Mali, was born on October 24, but Rosamond Gifford Zoo recently announced this birth.
They announced late because elephants are scarce animals that give birth to twins. They usually give birth to only one cub at a time. And in the case of twins, the sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴀʟ rate is only 1%. Most baby elephants ᴅɪᴇ because they are too ᴡᴇᴀᴋ, and so does the mother.
According to CNN, the first elephant was born at 2 am, weighing 99kg. Ten hours later, to everyone’s surprise, Mali gave birth to a second elephant, weighing more than 100kg but ᴡᴇᴀᴋᴇʀ than the first.
The Mali elephant’s twin elephants are also relatively ᴡᴇᴀᴋ, especially the second-born elephant. But thanks to the attention of the zoo’s veterinary staff, their condition has improved and is back to normal.
Zoo staff had not been able to predict the birth of twins because of the rarity and complexity of the elephant ultrasound. But they still had time to prepare a specialized milk substitute to supplement the second elephant’s diet. This is a historic moment for Rosamond Gifford Zoo and all animal lovers.
The pregnancy and birth of the Mali elephant mother are of interest to scientists because they will significantly impact elephants worldwide, contributing to the protection of this ᴇɴᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀᴇᴅ animal.
In addition, the zoo also hopes that research into the birth of twins will contribute to efforts to eliminate the cause of baby elephant ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜs at birth.
Before that, Mali also became pregnant and gave birth, but the baby elephant ᴅɪᴇᴅ from the endothelial ʜᴇʀᴘᴇs ᴠɪʀᴜs. It is the leading cause of ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ in young elephants. Mali’s placenta has been sent to Baylor University (Texas) for research in the hope of developing a vaccine and treatment for the ᴅɪsᴇᴀsᴇ. The twins will continue to be closely monitored and cared for.
The Asian elephant is listed in CITES Appendix I. It is a quintessential flagship species deployed to catalyze various conservation goals, including habitat conservation at landscape scales, generating public awareness on conservation issues, and mobilization as a famous cultural icon in India and the West. A key aspect of Asian elephant conservation is connectivity and preserving the preferred movement routes of elephants through areas of high vegetation cover and with “low human population density”.
World Elephant Day has been celebrated on August 12 since 2012. Events are organized to divulge information and engage people about the problems that the Asian elephant is facing. August has been established as Asian Elephant Awareness Month by zoos and conservation partners in the United States. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Asian elephant breed is ᴇɴᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀᴇᴅ. The population of this species has declined mainly due to ꜰʀᴀɢᴍᴇɴᴛᴇᴅ habitat, human-elephant ᴄᴏɴꜰʟɪᴄᴛ and ᴘᴏᴀᴄʜɪɴɢ.
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