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News (Top Stories)

Preemie Baby Elephant Rejected by Her Mom Will Be Hand-Reared by Keepers

Inside Edition logo Inside Edition 19/06/2017 Inside Edition
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Video: Premature Baby Elephant Enjoys First Bath Time (Newsweek)

Zookeepers have stepped in to take care of a baby elephant born premature after her mother couldn’t take care of her.

Seeni, a 21-year-old African elephant, gave birth to a female calf last week. 

Because the unnamed newborn was born nearly a month premature, Seeni was unable to produce milk, and was unable to care for her calf.

Preemie Baby Elephant Rejected by Her Mom Will Be Hand-Reared by Keepers: Seeni, the calf's 21-year-old mother, was unable to produce milk at the time of her birth. © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Seeni, the calf's 21-year-old mother, was unable to produce milk at the time of her birth.

Officials were also worried she wouldn’t know how to be a mother for the baby, since she was orphaned herself, and rejected her first calf.

Luckily, keepers at the Pittsburgh Zoo stepped in to hand-rear the calf themselves.

“Our first concern was to ensure that the calf was okay,” zoo president Dr. Barbara Baker said in a statement. “Being born one month early, she weighed only 184 pounds, which is 52 pounds below the median birth weight of a calf born full-term.”

She will be bottle-fed milk by keepers, and watched closely for signs of infection.

The calf, which is not yet on display for public viewing, will be introduced to the other elephants at the zoo and hopefully integrated into the herd.

“This is not a decision that you ever want to have to make, but the health and welfare of the calf was our top priority," said Willie Thieson, the zoo's elephant manager. "Once she is bigger and stronger, we will begin introducing her to the herd. I know they are very curious about her, so that is a good sign.”

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