A two year pregnancy and a 10-hour birth process made Israeli history on Saturday.
By YAAKOV KATZ
A two year pregnancy and a 10-hour birth process made Israeli history on Saturday when a baby elephant was born at the Jerusalem Tisch Family Zoological Gardens after being conceived through artificial insemination.
The male baby - who has yet to be named - was born to Tamar a Thai elephant brought to Israel ten years ago as a gift from the Thai government to then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Saturday's birth was one of 10 births around the world of an elephant conceived through artificial insemination.
Director General of the zoo Shai Doron called the birth: "A breakthrough in the efforts to conserve the endangered species of Asian elephants."
The birth process began at 8 p.m. Friday night and lasted until 6 a.m. Saturday when the baby, wrapped in a sac, fell to the ground. Doron, who spent the whole night at Tamar's side, said the birth process turned out to be more difficult than expected and demanded the highest professional level from his entire staff.
"It was a risky situation and at one point we thought we were going to lose the baby and the mother," he said. "We had hoped the elephant would be born naturally but because Tamar lacked experience in giving birth it took longer and was harder and we had to massage her and induce labor."
Doron called the birth process an "international project" referring to the two Thai and one Palestinian Muhats - Thai for elephant keepers - and the funding he received from Michael Steinhardt and Jack Rudin of the Jerusalem Foundation.
As to the baby elephant's name, Doron said: "We have received a lot of requests from leading Israeli companies who want to sponsor it. The final decision will be made in accordance with what we believe will be the best way to conserve this endangered species."