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Captive elephant breeding helps revive the giant
Xinhua 2019-10-08 11:01:46

Staff members feed the baby elephant that the 17-year-old Asian elephant Ranran gave birth to. [Photo/yunnan.cn]



After 14 years of caring, Ranran has mostly recovered, growing up from 155 cm, 500 kg to 230 cm, 2,200 kg, with a scar about the size of a small bowl on her left rear leg.


On Sept 21, the 17-year-old Asian elephant became a mother for the first time and delivered a healthy calf after a 22-month pregnancy.


According to the Asian Elephant Breeding and Rescue Center in Xishuangbanna in Southwest China's Yunnan province, Ranran mated with a male elephant picked by caregivers. The couple were left alone in a quiet and comfortable forest for about two weeks before Ranran was successfully conceived on Dec. 21 2017.


The new mom only had a three-minute labor before giving birth to a 68.2 kg female calf of 83 cm tall.


It is the seventh calf born at the center and the third captive-bred one with the help of "manual intervention."


In 2005, when elephant doctor Bao Weiming first met Ranran, the three-year-old was dying. Her left rear leg was caught by a steel trap, leaving a circular wound of more than 20 cm wide and 6 cm deep, which had become highly infected.


Flies and maggots flew around the frail elephant that appeared to be nothing more than a walking skeleton. But the herd was reluctant to leave, surrounding the hurt elephant, touching her with their trunks and supporting her when she stumbled.


Forest rangers in Xishuangbanna found the baby elephant. More than 80 rescuers, including forest and wildlife protection authorities, elephant doctors and experts, rushed to the scene.


"Ranran was in the rainforest. We had to cut the branches and vines to get close to her. Leeches, snakes and wild elephants were among the many things that stood in our way," Bao said.


Once through the rainforest, separating the wounded elephant from the herd remained another challenge. 


"Ranran was severely injured. Time was precious. But the elephants were so connected to each other that the herd members refused to leave."


 
 
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