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Elephant Herd Protects Newborn Calf During Birth (Video)

| by Lauren Briggs

Someone captured a video of an elephant giving birth in the wild, and it is so amazing you need to see it to believe it (video below).

The incredible recording, uploaded to YouTube in March 2011, was filmed by Christian and Ginette Leroy in Chobi National Park, Botswana, during the daytime. The video starts moments after the newborn elephant left its mother's womb, and it shows the elephant calf slowly coming out of the amniotic sac and taking its first breaths.

While it does so, the mother and several family members surround it and kick dirt and sand over the amniotic sac to cover the smell, to keep predators from detecting it and coming close to attack the vulnerable calf and its mother, according to Shareably.

The baby elephant finally gets up and begins walking after the herd gradually takes the entire sac off of the newborn as it kicks its legs and makes several attempts to start moving.

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Elephants typically carry a fetus for 22 months, which is the longest gestation period of all mammals, reports Science magazine. Because elephant fetuses stay in the womb for so long, the babies are born with advanced mental abilities and a general understanding of how to survive and communicate with their herd, which, as shown in the video, are of critical importance in keeping the young elephant safe.

"There's always a lot of excitement among the elephants whenever there's a birth," said Richard Fraser, assistant team manager of elephants at Chester Zoo in England, according to the Press Association. "It's a hugely positive event for the herd."

Fraser witnessed a similar rare occurrence at his zoo in December 2016, when 12-year-old Sundara, an Asian elephant, gave birth in captivity.

"The arrival of a calf is a great family occasion for the elephant herd and brings the whole group together," Fraser said at the time. "As soon as Sundara began showing early signs of labor, you could see the rest of the family knew something special was about to happen."

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At birth, elephants weigh approximately 200 pounds and stand roughly 3 feet tall, according to National Geographic. Due to the incredibly long gestation period, female elephants, called cows, typically give birth only once every two to four years. While the male elephants, called bulls, usually spend their time in solitude, cows stay together to raise and protect the young.

African elephants are larger than their Asian counterparts, making them the largest land animals.

Sources: Shareably, YouTube, Science, Press Association via The Guardian, National Geographic / Photo credit: Zanitycomau/Wikimedia Commons

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