Rare Elephant Twins Born In Dramatic Birth In Thailand

In a spectacular birth, an elephant in Thailand gave birth to a rare set of twins, injuring a caregiver who attempted to save one of the babies.

On Friday night, Jamjuree, a 36-year-old Asian elephant, gave birth to an 80-kilogram (176-pound) male at the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace and Royal Kraal, north of Bangkok.

However, when a second, 60-kg female calf appeared 18 minutes later, the mother went into a frenzy and assaulted her new arrival.

“We heard somebody shout ‘There is another baby being born!’” said veterinarian Lardthongtare Meepan.

An elephant keeper, also known as a mahout, moved in to prevent the mother from attacking her newborn, and took a blow to his ankle in return.

“The mother attacked the baby because she had never had twins before –- it’s very rare,” said Michelle Reedy, the director of the Elephant Stay organisation, which allows visiting tourists to ride, feed and bathe elephants at the Royal Kraal centre.

“The mahouts who are the carers of the elephants jumped in there trying to get the baby away so that she didn’t kill it,” Reedy told AFP.

Jamjuree has now accepted her calves, who are so small that a special platform has been built to help them reach up to suckle.

They are also being given supplemental pumped milk by syringe, said Lardthongtare.

Twin elephants are rare, forming around only one per cent of births, according to research organisation Save the Elephants, and male-female twin births are even more unusual.

Mothers often do not have enough milk for both calves and the pair might not have survived in the wild, said Reedy.

“Whether the rest of the herd may have intervened — they may have, but the baby may have been trampled in the process,” she said.

Reedy stated that majority of the center’s 80 elephants were rescued from street begging, a practice that grew more frequent following a logging ban in 1989, which left mahouts working in the industry with their elephants looking for alternative revenue.

The practice, which was forbidden in 2010, involved the animals doing stunts such as playing football or carrying fruit baskets.

Some elephants at Royal Kraal transport tourists to the adjacent ruins and temples of Ayutthaya, Siam’s historic former capital.

Many conservation groups oppose elephant riding, claiming it is unpleasant for the animals and frequently involves harsh training.

According to the center, the rides allow the animals to socialize and exercise while also promoting the conservation of the endangered species in Southeast Asia and China.

The WWF estimates that just 8,000-11,000 Asian elephants survive in the wild.

The animals were previously abundant, but deforestation, human encroachment, and poaching have destroyed their populations.

The twin calves, whose father is a 29-year-old elephant named Siam, will be named seven days after birth, according to Thai tradition.

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