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Taronga staff were greatly saddened today when it was confirmed that the Zoo’s expected second Asian Elephant calf has not survived a difficult labour.

Taronga’s Director, Cameron Kerr, said: “Keepers and veterinarians became aware in the early hours that despite round-the-clock care, the calf has not survived the labour. They’re now focussing on the next steps to support the mother, Porntip.

“Although we all knew that first deliveries are successful in only 50 percent of elephant births, everyone at the Zoo was hoping that our second birth would be successful.”

“Even though they knew the risks, the elephant keepers and veterinarians have been very distressed by the outcome. Their first thoughts are now for Porntip as they work together to support her.”

“Preparations for this birth have been minutely detailed. Because of the huge amount of knowledge shared by global zoos, we were prepared forevery reasonable eventuality.”

The Zoo’s elephant team was supported during the birth by Zoo veterinarians and the world’s pre-eminent elephant breeding expert, Dr Thomas Hildebrandt from the Berlin Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Health.

The Zoo’s elephant manager, Gary Miller, has been involved in many successful elephant births in the USA. He and his keepers had prepared for the birth ever since the elephant arrived in Australia in late 2006 from work camps in Thailand to participate in our conservation breeding program for this species.

Mr Kerr said: “We had expert teams on hand, working around the clock.All evidence from the passage of labour, the ultrasound results and a subsequent veterinary analysis has established that the calf had presented in a position never before seen, and that this presentation meant that there was never any chance of a successful birth.

“The attending international expert doctor has confirmed that in the wild, such a labour would have been fatal for both mother and calf. We’ve all been incredibly saddened by this outcome, but right now, our focus must be on caring for Porntip and the rest of the herd.”

Porntip has come through well and she is a young, fit elephant that has many reproductive years ahead.

Mr Kerr said: “Despite this sad outcome, the regional Conservation Management Plan for Asian Elephants is an important step forward for species management and we were always prepared that not all calves born in the program would survive. With so many species endangered in our region, it’s more critical than ever that we make an effort to help ensure a sustainable future for wildlife.”

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