Birth of elephant calf celebrated

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Proud mother Five has given birth to a calf. Proud mother Five has given birth to a calf.

A safari park is celebrating the birth of the first baby elephant in its 41-year history.

The baby African elephant, now a week old, weighed in at 100kg (221lb) when he was born at West Midlands Safari Park at 5.30pm on May 5.

His mother Five gave birth to him after a 22-month pregnancy following artificial insemination using semen that had been frozen and stored in a French laboratory after being taken from an elephant on a reserve in South Africa.

The as yet unnamed male calf is only the second to be born in the world using this technique.

The first, a female, was born last year at Vienna Zoo.

The technique was developed by a team from Berlin's Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, which has worked closely with West Midland Safari Park.

Andy Plumb, head elephant keeper, has cared for 22-year-old Five since she arrived at West Midlands Safari Park in 1998.

He said: "This really is fantastic news, the baby is absolutely perfect - just like his mother - and both are fine.

"Five has been well throughout her pregnancy and it has only been during the last few weeks before the birth that she has seemed to be a bit more 'clingy' than usual towards the staff. The birth was an uncomplicated one and Five clearly adores her new baby.

"We are all absolutely over the moon that mum and baby are doing well."

Five arrived at West Midlands Safari Park when she was six years old.

Left orphaned after her mother was shot, she was hand reared in a private elephant orphanage near Pretoria, South Africa, before moving to the park in Bewdley, Worcestershire.

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