The Rosamond Gifford Zoo has made history — two times over!
The Syracuse, New York facility announced Thursday that on Oct. 24, its Asian elephant, Mali, gave birth to twins. Twins only make up 1% of elephant births worldwide.
The news is especially notable, Rosamond Gifford Zoo officials said, because prior to Mali’s delivery, no U.S. zoo had welcomed surviving elephant twins.
“This is truly a historic moment for the zoo and our community,” Onondaga County executive Ryan J. McMahon said in a news release. “I couldn’t be prouder of our exceptional animal care team, the support of the veterinary staff, and their tremendous dedication to Mali and the twins.”
He added, “The important research happening right here at the zoo will have a significant impact worldwide on behalf of this magnificent endangered species.”
The exciting births of the male calves were a surprise to zoo officials, the New York park wrote on Facebook.
“When we first announced the pregnancy of Asian elephant Mali, we assumed our herd of six Asian elephants would become seven. That’s not quite what happened… because we not only welcomed the seventh member of our Asian elephant herd — but our eighth. Mali had twins!” Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s post shared.
Since the facility welcomed the baby elephants two weeks ago, its elephant care team has been monitoring the duo closely, officials said, adding that “Mali and both her calves are currently doing well.”
Last month, Mali delivered the first calf, who was “perfectly healthy” and 220 pounds, at 2 a.m.
The second calf was born 10 hours later, which “astonished” the animal care staff. That calf weighed 237 pounds but was not as strong as his brother.
“The zoo’s animal care team and veterinary staff sprang into action and were able to significantly improve the calf’s condition,” according to Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s release.
The zoo will closely monitor the baby animals for EEHV, a lethal strain of herpes believed to occur among elephants in a dormant form naturally. The zoo said that the virus can become active without warning and is the leading cause of death among young elephants.
In 2020, EEHV claimed the lives of Mali’s last two calves, Batu and Ajay.
Asian elephants are classified as “endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).