The Zurich Zoo in Switzerland recently uploaded a heartbreaking video showing an elephant and her mother desperately attempting to revive a newborn calf inside their enclosure.
Farha, Zurich Zoo’s 17-year-old Asian elephant, gave birth to a male elephant calf on Saturday after 22 months of pregnancy.
Fahra gives birth to a male calf, often referred to as a bull elephant, with her mother, Ceyla-Himali, present.
Shortly after being born, Fahra’s calf can be seen in the video briefly moving as he lies in the sand. What is supposed to be a joyous moment turns into heartache when the calf suddenly lies motionless inside its enclosure.
Fahra tries to nudge her newborn calf with her foot, but he does not show any signs of life. She then tries to put her trunk into the calf’s mouth, something that only close elephant family members and friends do, according to Elephant Aid.
Fahra and her mother try their hardest to revive the calf, but to no avail.
Zurich Zoo attributed the bull elephant’s death to being born “very weak.”
The expected elephant birth in the Kaeng Krachan Elephant Park at the beginning of the year did not have the desired outcome. In the night from Saturday to Sunday, the 17-year-old elephant cow Farha gave birth to an elephant bull. Unfortunately, the calf died shortly after birth due to weakness.
The Swiss zoo said it has scheduled a pathological examination of the cause of death.
This is the sixth elephant death at Zurich Zoo since 2020, the Franz Weber Foundation (FFW) said in a press release on Tuesday.
The deaths started in April 2020 and August 2020 when two young elephants were trampled to death by other elephants.
This was followed by three more deaths, with the most recent one until now involving a 5-year-old elephant named Ruwani in July 2022. These deaths were attributed to Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV), a condition that most elephants carry latently, according to Reuters.
FFW’s recent press release quoted Dr. Keith Lindsay, a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature African Elephant Specialist Group, who said that elephants experience trauma from witnessing deaths.
“Because elephants are highly social and intelligent animals, they perceive these deaths as a real trauma – a huge sadness for all the surviving animals,” Lindsay explained.
FFW reported that Fahra’s calf was her third one that did not survive.
The foundation noted that elephants typically have an interval of five years between pregnancies, but Fahra’s previous pregnancy was only about a year before her most recent one.
FFW also noted Fahra’s weight, linking the obesity of elephants to several problems such as reproductive issues and labor complications.