Rare twin elephant birth; the mother attacked one calf

An Asian elephant has given birth to twins in Thailand (photo above, AFP), a rare event for this endangered species, after a dangerous birth that left the keeper injured.

Eighteen minutes after the 80-kilogram male was born on Friday evening, a 60-kilogram female was born, and the mother, Pangjamjuri, suffered a nervous breakdown.

A team member from the facility where the elephant lives intervened to prevent her from attacking the other newborn, but was hit in the ankle in response.

Elephant mothers rarely have enough milk to feed their twins, and if they lived in the wild, they would have difficulty surviving

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Photo from AFP

“The mother attacked her newborn because she had never had twins before. It’s a very rare occurrence,” said Michelle Reedy of Elephantstay, who manages the facility in Ayutthaya, near Bangkok in central Thailand.

The mother has now adopted two elephant calves, but they are so small that a platform has been created for them to breastfeed. They are also given complementary milk using a syringe.

Elephants have the longest gestation period of any mammal, lasting 18 to 22 months, and give birth approximately every four to five years.

A rare event

According to the research organization Save the Elephants, twins are born in only about 1% of pregnancies, and the likelihood of a woman and a man being born is even smaller.

Many of the 80 Asian elephants at Elephantstay were once used by beggars to solicit money on the streets, which was banned in Thailand in 2010.

Today they are mainly used to transport tourists between temples and ancient ruins in Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Siam.

Conservation organizations express their opposition to elephant rides, arguing that they cause enormous stress to the animals and may also mean inappropriate training methods.

The center says such rides allow elephants to socialize and exercise amid poaching and deforestation that threaten their population in the region.

According to WWF, there are still between 8,000 and 11,000 Asian elephants left in the wild – a species slightly smaller than African elephants.

According to Thai tradition, the twins will be named seven days after birth.