Despite overwhelming evidence that her first calf had not survived a protracted labour, Taronga’s Asian Elephant Porntip delivered a male calf alive at 3.27 am today. The Zoo’s Director, Cameron Kerr, said: “Her dedicated keepers reported the amazing news early this morning that the calf had been born and was showing signs of life to Taronga’s veterinary team who immediately rushed to the elephant barn to assist Porntip and the calf.”
“The long-standing, detailed plans were immediately put into place to support the calf in its very delicate situation.”
“Porntip is with the calf as her keepers and the veterinary team work to support them both. His health is being monitored and it is still too early to know if the calf will survive long-term.”
On Monday the birth team led by the Zoo’s Senior Veterinarian and the world-leading expert on elephant births, Dr Thomas Hildebrandt, told the media that they believed that the calf had not survived.
After six days of intensive effort by Porntip, keepers and veterinarians found none of the five vital signs that would have indicated the calf was still alive..
Dr Hildebrandt said that “should the calf be born alive, it would be a miracle”.
Mr Kerr said: “While this is incredible news, the young calf still has a long way to go. Our vets are now working to determine the possible effects of the protracted labour on the calf.”
“There are no guarantees of its long-term survival at this early stage but we hope that its birth against the odds will stand it in good stead.”
“We will provide more information on the calf’s progress as it becomes available.”
The other elephants in Taronga’s herd, Pak Boon, Tang Mo and Thong Dee, together with eight month old Luk Chai, are calm and in the barn.
Further statements will be made later today.