"Dead" baby elephant calf born alive in Sydney zoo

Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:28am EST
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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - An elephant gave birth to a calf at Sydney's main zoo on Wednesday, surprising vets and keepers who two days earlier declared the baby had died in the womb.

The Asian elephant mother delivered the male baby in the early hours of Wednesday in what Taronga Park Zoo officials said was "unbelievable good fortune".

"Dedicated keepers reported the amazing news early this morning that the calf had been born and was showing signs of life," said zoo director Cameron Kerr.

On Monday, Kerr said despite an expert team of vets who had prepared for every eventuality, the calf had not survived after six days of labor, and ultrasounds found there was no chance of a successful birth.

Officials said they now believe the calf was in a coma throughout the labor. They said the calf had since taken its first steps, but it was too early to know if it would survive.

"When the keepers learned the calf had survived this morning, the looks of disbelief on our faces were quite a picture. We couldn't believe that this could be true," said Taronga Zoo's elephant manager Gary Miller.

(Reporting by James Grubel, editing by Miral Fahmy)