SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — On what could have been the last 50° day of the year, the crowd at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo was unusually large for the early winter.

One of the Zoo’s collections managers, Ashley Shepperd, gives the go-ahead to open the gates and let out the three-generation Asian elephant herd for visitor viewing.

The family is made up of Targa, who was brought to Syracuse in 1990, her daughter, Mali, and Mali’s new additions: twin boys named Yaad and Tukada.

With curiosity and the incentive of food on the ground, all four come right to the fence line where NewsChannel 9 was given rare access for an up-close look.

“Yaad has a tight kink at the end of his tail,” said Shepperd, who knows the twins well enough to tell them apart. “Tukada has a slower turn.”

Like human babies, it’s easy to see they’re interested in everything. On this day, the boys are attracted to the metal rods that make up their exhibit’s fence.

Unlike their mother and grandmother, Yaad and Tukada are small enough to fit through.

“Hey! Hey! Hey!,” Shepperd assertively but calmly says, but has to help push them back in.

They won’t fit for long.

“They’re gaining weight every single day,” said Shepperd. “They’re doing all the things they’re supposed to be doing: learning how to be elephants, playing with their surroundings, exploring. All those things tell us they’re doing great.”

Great was no guarantee with twin elephants.

The Zoo’s curator, Dan Meates, explains: “Usually one of the calves is either stillborn or both are stillborn. You can’t get rarer than this.”

Meates would know, having worked at zoos all over the world. “Everybody’s in shock,” he says. “It still takes us away, that each time you look down, there’s two.”

Yaad was born first, in the early morning of October 24. Veterinarians and zoo keepers then waited for his placenta, which is valuable for research.

Nine hours later, instead, it was rear feet.

Tukada had trouble breathing, a low heart rate and a low temperature. It took an Oxygen tube and 40 minutes of life-saving procedures to stabilize him and reintroduce him to his mom.

Sheppard says her team has been taking notes on “every move they make.” She lists: “How many times are they nursing? Are they napping? What are they doing with each other? So we can give that information to someone else when they are met with this challenge.”

The challenge isn’t over, considering the tricky birth, natural vulnerability of twins and experience from past elephant deaths.

But there’s already cause for celebration felt in every corner of the Zoo.

Yaad and Tukada are the first successful births of elephant twins ever in North America and Europe. The few other cases happened in Asia and Africa.

Visitors are coming from hours away, including staff of other zoos. The team in Syracuse has gotten calls from San Diego, Houston, Pittsburgh, the Bronx and Toledo.

There’s a special cookie in the HoneyBee Cafe. Elephant stuffed animals are the best-seller at the Curious Cub Gift Shop, which is expecting more merchandise.

Zoo Director Ted Fox said, “We couldn’t find a plush that had two baby elephants with the mother. They contacted a manufacturer that’s doing a custom order for us with the mom elephant and two babies.”

No zoo had ever needed one before.

But it’s the real babies that everyone’s talking about.

“I’d encourage everybody to come,” said Fox. “See these as often as possible. Every day, they’re learning new things.”