SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – What’s better than one baby elephant? Two!
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo and Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon announced on November 10, that the zoo’s very own, Mali, gave birth to twin elephants, both of which, are boys.
The Asian elephants were born on October 24 to parents (mom) Mali, and (dad) Doc.
But here’s the catch, the zoo was only expecting there to be one calf.
“We were waiting for Mali’s placenta to drop, so they could use it for research, and to support the calf….and all of a sudden, a second baby dropped,” said County Executive Ryan McMahon when telling everyone about Mali’s birth.
Since then, the zoo says that they have been on 24-hour watch, but not only by the keepers. Other elephants will step in and cover a shift if Mali needs to take a break or get some sleep.
McMahon referred to the twins as “miracles” as it’s uncommon for them to even survive the pregnancy, nonetheless, live beyond birth to become healthy calves.
“Elephant twins comprise less than 1% of elephant births worldwide. Of twin pregnancies, twins are often stillborn or are too weak to survive. Sometimes the mother elephant does not survive,” said Rosamond Gifford Zoo. “To date, there has never been a recorded case of surviving elephant twins in the United States. The few successful twin births have only taken place in their range countries in Asia and Africa and nowhere else in the world.”
Even though the zoo did not anticipate the calves, that did not mean they were ill-equipped. McMahon explained that the zoo team was able to work quickly and efficiently under duress to save the second calf.
“Elephant care staff have been supplementing the second calf with a specialized milk replacer they received days before the delivery,” said Rosamond Gifford Zoo.
In America, there has not been a set of elephant twins who have survived birth, making this moment monumental for not only the Rosamond Gifford Zoo but Onondaga County and the Asian Elephant population across the world.
“I can’t commend my team enough for all they have done these past few weeks to ensure the care and safety of Mali and her twins. It has been incredible to watch them in action and witness the high level of expertise, professionalism and focus under pressure,” said Zoo Director Ted Fox. “The continued work and research that follows will significantly contribute to global research efforts on behalf of elephant care, Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus (EEHV), and more.”
If you were curious, even after the surprise of the second baby, Mali’s placenta was in fact still sent off for research.
After being received by Baylor University, they will use it to study and research the development and treatment of a vaccine to combat EEHV. This strain of herpes is believed to occur among elephants naturally and can remain dormant. Without any notice or warning, the herpes may then become active, which kills the baby elephant.
Mali and Doc have already lost two other calves to the virus, Batu and Ajay back in December of 2020.
“After this tragedy, the Friends of the Zoo created the Ajay and Batu Memorial Fund in memory of the young elephants. The funds raised were used to provide EEHV resources to the zoo – including equipment to test for EEHV in-house at the zoo’s new state-of-the-art Animal Health Center,” the zoo continued.
They said that they test the elephants twice a week for EEHV, and the twins are heavily monitored for the virus as well.
With this new addition of the twins, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo will now have eight elephants that reside there.
You can find them at the Helga Beck Asian Elephant Preserve.
The new calves will be the third generation in the herd’s family which includes Mali and her half-sister Kirina and Mali’s mother, Targa.
The zoo also has “aunties” Siri and Romani, in an effort to mock the way that herds are in the wild – not necessarily made of blood relatives.
Currently, Asian Elephants are considered to be endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN.)
This problem arises from human conflict, habitat destruction, and ivory poachers. There are estimated to be only about 20,000 Asian Elephants left in the world.
And unfortunately, this problem extends beyond the elephant population. There are many other species that face this same life-altering issue.
If you’d like to set your eyes upon these adorable baby twins and the rest of the herd, you can!
Visitors will be able to see elephant twins at the Helga Beck Asian Elephant Preserve daily from 11 to 11:30 a.m. and 2 to 2:30 p.m. (weather dependent) and indoors at the Pachyderm Pavilion viewing windows.
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo has shared more pictures of the adorable baby elephant twins, check it out!
The miracle of birth is surely beautiful!