Activism, Protests & Rights

Amazing Footage of the Birth of an Elephant

First of all, this is graphic. You will see the baby appear, drop, and all the other “lovely” items that are associated with giving birth. The mother elephant will release a gush like you’ve never seen before. LOL… and ladies, after you watch this, child-bearing just won’t seem quite as bad as before.

I am sharing this video primarily because of what happens after the baby elephant is born. You see, the baby was born dead. Not breathing and would not start breathing as it normally should have. Watch what the frantic mother does to the lifeless body. This video will amaze you with the birth, some may be repulsed at the graphic nature as you will see it all – but that’s life, that’s nature – then you will experience terror as you watch the lifeless body lay there. Your heart will be full of pain as you watch the mother elephant hold and coil her lifeless baby’s trunk in her own trunk. At that point, I just wanted to go running to the mother elephant, hug her and tell her it’s all okay… it’s okay.

Then you will see nature work her miracles through the instinct of the mama elephant.

A little bit of background of this facility – it is actually a luxury resort in Bali, Indonesia, owned and ran by Nigel Mason from Australia. These are Sumatran Elephants that were rescued from Sumatra and brought to The Elephant Safari Park to live out their days in “luxury.” There are no more Sumatran Elephants in the wild anymore. They roam free in certain areas of the park property where the visitors may directly interact with the elephants as well as take an elephant ride. From what I understand, this breed of elephant actually takes pride in working, therefore, they enjoy providing rides to the tourists. No whips are used, nor negative reinforcement. These rescues are very well taken care of.

In 2006, the Elephant Breeding Program was started after the oldest male elephant, Seng Wong, finally comes into ‘Musth’ ready to mate. In mid-2009 the park’s first naturally conceived baby elephant was born. This was a world first for the park and a testament to the park’s efforts to conserve and breed this endangered species. All goes according to nature and plan and this marks the first baby Sumatran elephant to be conceived and born in captivity in Bali. The first birth was quickly followed by two more this year. The last baby birth, ‘Riski’, is the elephant you see being born in this video and has had millions of hits, because of its graphic and dramatic footage.

So without further ado, here is the birth of Riski.


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As is normal with YouTube, many people find it necessary to question the intergrity of the park – as if they are all elephant experts. Nigel has provided a summation from the endless flood of questions he is asked on YouTube. This is the information Nigal has added to the video information. It is quite long, but worth reading to better understand how well Nigel tends to his elephants.

Message from Nigel: IN ANSWER TO YOUR MANY QUESTIONS

The surface of the sick bay where Riski was born is sandstone and is especially designed to be sterile and poses no threat to the mother and calf during or after the birth. The floor is sloped for run off to wash down and sterilize the area quickly. The Sumatran elephant is the smallest elephant in the world and the slight fall is less than one meter. The baby always comes out feet first, unlike a human baby. This breaks the fall as does the embryonic sack, filled with fluid. To my knowledge, there has never been an injury to a baby by this fall. Otherwise the mother would either squat or lie down for the birth, which is never the case.

You may notice that we are actually washing down the area of blood while the baby is still not completely standing. The alternative is to remove the baby and separate it from its mother. This is dangerous as it can often lead to the baby being rejected by its mother. A dirt, straw or other easily contaminated surface is not hygienic and might lead to later infection and anyway, straw laid on any surface would serve little purpose to cushion the fall. Our babies are too precious to take any risk that might harm them, so hygiene is essential.

All of our babies were born this way and we have a 100 percent success rate for raising healthy calfs. Elephants in the wild do not choose a soft surface, as they tend to birth wherever they happen to be standing at the time, on dirt, rock, or sometimes in the forest with dangerous sticks that could injure the baby. Remember, that the mother kicked the baby in the head and the ribs very severely, but this in fact brought the baby to life. Maybe she knows better what the baby can handle than we do. This is the first time that one of our babies was born dead. Usually they are alert and up on their feet within minutes. This birth was extremely unusual.

The baby has difficulty standing, not only because of a slippery surface, but because its legs are weak and its never stood before. She was weak due to the fact that her birth was so dramatic, (she wasnt breathing). Her mother unfortunately did not take this into account and forced her to stand immediately before she was strong enough. This is an instinctive reaction against predators in the wild. Once standing she had no problem with the surface of the floor. Forty eight hours later they both joined the other mothers and babies in our nursery area, which is grassy and has shady trees. She is extremely healthy and has developed very quickly since her birth.

As elephant carers we would do nothing that could cause harm to the baby. Unlike human babies an elephant calf is not fragile, as it has spent almost two years developing inside its mother to give it the extra strength needed to survive the birth and immediately after. Its skeleton is strong and the head is able to withstand far more than a human infant. Never does the surface, whatever it is, make any difference to it standing up within a very short time.

This is 18 year old Nickis first baby, she being one of the group of nine elephants that we first rescued from the island of Sumatra in 1997. She was then a four year old orphan who is now part our herd of 30 elephants. Nicki is a very caring and protective mother and plays and swims four times a day with the other babies and their mothers at one of our two park lakes.

To answer the question, were we going to help the mother the answer is of course yes. But under the situation it was best to let nature take its course first, as often unnecessary interference can cause the mother to reject the baby. I had allowed for three minutes for Nicki to sort it out before we intervened. However she brought the baby to life in just under 2½ minutes herself.

Riski lives at the Elephant Safari Park at Taro near Ubud in central Bali which was created in 1997 and is a full elephant experience. Visitors can learn about Sumatran elephants and can hand feed, touch and even ride the elephants and watch daily elephant talent shows. Here guests can get up close and personal with elephants, unlike zoos where you can only view elephants from a distance. The park also includes many facilities for guests and elephants alike. There are two lakes set in botanical gardens, shade houses, breeding and nursery areas and a laboratory with other elephant facilities. For guests there is an elephant museum, restaurant, shop, arena and 25 room 5 star lodge for overnight stays. Guests can visit in the daytime or for a Night Safari ride with dinner.

Nigel Mason
Managing Director

Here are some images of the park from their website:

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Sources and References:

Elephant Safari Park & Lodge website
Elephant Safari Park & Lodge Facebook page
Bali Adventure Tours: The Company History
Lakbai – A couple traveling through Southeast Asia: Up Close and Personal with Sumatran Elephants (they were guests at the lodge)
Encyclopedia of wild dangerous Animals: Graphic footage of an Elephant resuscitating a baby elephant the first ever elephant birth filmed in Bali, Indonesia.

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