First elephant born at West Midland Safari Park

Kidderminster Shuttle: ELE-PHANTASTIC: The new baby elephant born on Monday, May 5. ELE-PHANTASTIC: The new baby elephant born on Monday, May 5.

A BABY elephant has been born at West Midland Safari Park, the first in its 41-year-history.

Staff are celebrating the elephant's arrival, which was born on Monday, May 5 at 5.30pm, after a 22-month pregnancy.

The baby boy, which has yet to be named, weighed 100kg and is only the second calf in the world to be born in such circumstances.

Its mother, 22-year-old Five, gave birth following artificial insemination using semen that had been frozen and stored in a French laboratory, after it had been taken from a wild elephant.

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

The youngster's father is from the privately-owned Phinda Reserve in South Africa. He is also father to a female calf born in 2013 using the same method at Vienna Zoo.

Head elephant keeper, Andy Plumb, 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.

"It is incredible to think of the worldwide effort that has been put in to produce such a beautiful new baby and that he does actually have a half-sister.

"Though of course, it is quite unlikely that their paths will ever cross. This really is such a joyful and very special event for everyone involved with West Midland Safari Park. The new baby is a delight."

West Midland Safari Park has two female African elephants, Five and 21-year-old Latabe.

Five and Latabe arrived at West Midland Safari Park in 1998 when they were six and five years old.

Orphaned by the shooting of their mothers at a few days old, Five and Latabe were hand reared in a private elephant orphanage near Pretoria, South Africa.

Mr Plumb has cared for both elephants since their first day at the park 17 years ago.

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