Austrian minister thanks elephant that aided virus guidance

International

Elephant baby Kibali enjoys her birthday cake besides her mother Numbi at the Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria, Monday, May 18, 2020. Economy Minister Margarete Schramboeck was named godmother to Kibali the elephant in a ceremony at Vienna’s Zoo. In order to help Austrians envision keeping the recommended one-meter (3.28 feet) apart to protect themselves from the conronavirus, Schramboeck said they’d always told people it was “the length of a baby elephant.” (Zoo Vienna via AP)

VIENNA (AP) — Austria’s economy minister has become the symbolic godmother of a young elephant, in a nod of thanks after the government used a cartoon of the large mammal as a reference to help people put pandemic distancing recommendations into perspective.

Margarete Schramboeck was named godmother to Kibali the elephant in a ceremony at Vienna’s Schoenbrunn Zoo on Monday. In order to help Austrians envision keeping the recommended one-meter (3.28 feet) apart, Schramboeck said authorities had spread the message it was “the length of a baby elephant.”

A government video had showed a cartoon of a baby elephant to drive the point home.

Schramboeck said “most people, and certainly myself, thought of Kibali.”

Now one year old, Kibali has grown past the Austrian coronavirus distance guidance to 1.4 meters (4.6 feet) long, but zoo director Stephan Hering-Hagenbeck noted her trunk is now exactly a half-meter (1.64 feet) long.

He says: “maybe from now on we can say you have to keep as much distance as two Kibali trunks.”

Schramboeck was given a watercolor of the elephant, and Kibali was given a cake of hay, fruit and vegetables to celebrate the occasion.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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