Elephant Tramples Newborn Calf To Death Shortly After Birth In Germany Zoo: Why Did Mother Reject Her Baby?

By Danny Choy on September 18, 2013 2:06 PM EDT

Elephant tramples newborn
An African elephant mother rejected her offspring. Elephants are social animals with strong relationships with their family. (Photo: Creative Commons)

An elephant trampled her baby to death after giving birth. The terrifying incident occurred in a zoo of Halle, Germany. Unfortunately, African elephant mother Bibi killed her calf before the zoo keepers could do anything to stop her.

The elephant enclosure of Zoo Halle in Germany is a 3,000 square meter outdoor plot that features a swimming pool for five African elephants. The parade of elephants include a bull named Abu and four cows named Majuta, Tana, Bibi, and her calf Panya.

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According to the keepers of the Germany zoo, Bibi is an experienced mother of two and her newborn was to be her third offspring. The keepers did not expect the shocking incident. Witnesses saw Bibi become distressed after giving birth. She stomped on her newborn and flung her baby's body with her trunk.

While it is unknown why the mother rejected her newborn calf, some suggest that infanticide that occurs in captivity can be attributed to stress factors including overcrowding. Anxiety interferes with a mother's protective instincts for their offspring.

In the wild, a newborn is rejected if it threatens the survival of the group. If the effort necessary to raise a calf puts the family in danger, or if there are not enough resources to go around, then the mother may decide to sacrifice her child.

The gruesome incident occurred just a week after a Chinese zoo managed to intervene before a mother elephant trampled her calf to death. Zookeepers intervened before matters turned deadly. Zoo veterinarians of Shendiaoshan Wild Animal Natural Researve Area initially deemed the incident as an accident and the calf was later returned to the mother after his injuries were treated. Shockingly, the mother proceeded to trample him once more.

According to reports, the rejected calf cried for five hours while keepers tried to console the poor animal. Finally, the baby elephant has been adopted by a keeper of the Chinese zoo.

Psychological grief caused by abandonment can cause life-threatening problems for newborn animals. Infant elephants are vulnerable during their milk dependency period and require specific nutrition and care. Some orphan elephants grow to become fit in the wild and successfully integerate with a herd.

To learn more, visit Daily Mail to see the graphic images of the mother elephant that trampled her newborn to death.

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