Monday, July 29, 2002

Too-large elephant dies during birth

The Associated Press

        TOLEDO, Ohio - An African elephant conceived by artificial insemination died Saturday during birth at the Toledo Zoo

        At 350 pounds, the baby male was 50 to 100 pounds larger than normal, said Randi Meyerson, the zoo's large mammal curator.

        The elephant's handlers said the labor progressed faster than usual, but the baby became stuck in the birth canal for nearly 15 minutes.

        As the infant's hind legs and rear dangled from the birth canal, its shoulders and head became lodged, zoo officials said.

        Unlike most mammals, elephant umbilical cords detach during birth, so the baby couldn't breathe.

        Zookeepers watched as 20-year-old Rafiki went into labor, with 23-year-old Renee the elephant, who also is pregnant, by her side.

        Zookeepers tried to revive the baby when he was born unresponsive, but they were unsuccessful.


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