When This Wild Elephant Gave Birth, She Delivered A Surprise That Hadn’t Been Seen In 40 Years

Image: Facebook/Elephant Garden
With more than 1,600 elephants under their care, rangers at Amboseli National Park in Kenya are no doubt accustomed to welcoming new calves into the world. But when Paru gave birth in March 2018, she delivered a once-in-a-lifetime surprise. This particular type of birth was so rare, in fact, that staff hadn’t seen anything like it for nearly 40 years.
Image: Amoghavarsha JS
Amboseli National Park in the south of Kenya is one of the most visited parks in the country, and it’s easy to see why. The 150-square-mile wildlife haven boasts a breathtaking backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain. And it’s also one of the best places in the world to get up close and personal with free-roaming elephants.
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Elephants aren’t the only creatures that call Amboseli their home, though. The protected park actually encompasses five different types of habitat – from woodlands to wetlands – that provide the perfect conditions for a whole host of wild animals such as Masai giraffes, cheetahs, lions and spotted hyenas – as well as 600 different species of bird.
Image: Buena Vista Images/Getty Images
Despite the diversity of wildlife at Amboseli, however, elephants are nonetheless the main attraction. There are around 1,700 of the gentle giants currently living free in the park, making up in the region of 60 different families. And when it comes to family, these huge animals are some of the most fascinating of all.
Image: Diana Robinson
While males tend to live largely solitary existences, female elephants – known as cows – are extremely social beings. A typical elephant family consists of anywhere from three to 25 mothers, aunties, daughters and granddaughters, who form very close bonds with one another.
Image: Jean
Elephants value their families so much, in fact, that they often live together for much of their lives. No land animal stays with members of its own family longer than female elephant calves choose to remain with their mothers – in many cases more than half a century.
Image: Madeleine Deaton
What’s more, elephants are capable of highly complex thoughts and emotions, according to experts. Much like humans, they can feel happiness, compassion and even grief. Elephants have been known to gather at the places where their loved ones died to mourn, for instance – sort of the animal kingdom equivalent of visiting a grave.
Image: Chen Hu
But perhaps no emotion is stronger than a mother’s love for her child, and when it comes to motherhood, elephants are pretty remarkable. They experience longer pregnancies than any other animal, in fact, which last for nearly two years. And if that weren’t unusual enough, mothers normally have to wait around half a decade after giving birth before they can have another calf.
Image: Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images
Unfortunately, though, these lengthy waiting times somewhat complicate matters for elephants, particularly for those in Kenya such as Paru. Despite poaching having been illegal in the nation for decades, these majestic mammals are still killed in their tens of thousands every year. And such slow birth rates make it tricky for conservationists to increase the animals’ declining numbers.
Image: YouTube/ODN
Given that the wild populations are at risk, then, any new elephant arrival is surely cause for celebration. But when 39-year-old Paru gave birth at Easter 2018, the news was even more special than usual. Indeed, her offspring left the staff at Amboseli feeling overjoyed, and the unusual occurrence made headlines worldwide.
Image: Diana Robinson
That’s because when pregnant Paru went into labor at the end of March 2018, she didn’t just welcome one new arrival. You see, the mother elephant actually delivered a double-delight: twins. And given that the last time an elephant at Amboseli had welcomed two calves at once was back in 1980, it’s easy to understand why staff were so astonished.
Image: Ray in Manila
Twins are so rare, in fact, that they account for only one in every hundred elephant births. The surprise arrival of Paru’s pair of calves – one male and one female – was undoubtedly an extra-special occasion, then. But the remarkable news didn’t stop there.
Image: Twitter/KWS
While the chances of elephant twins occurring at all are extremely slim, unfortunately it’s also very unlikely that they’ll survive for very long once they’re outside the womb. Mortality rates are much higher in twin elephants, and many don’t make it.
Image: Facebook/Amboseli Trust for Elephants
Thankfully, though, Paru’s twins seem to be defying the odds once again. Now six months old, the delightful duo are, much to the delight of the staff at Amboseli, thriving. “This is a very unique scenario in terms of conservation, particularly in the elephant population,” Kenneth Ole Nashu, senior warden at the park, explained to ODN.
Image: Facebook/Amboseli Trust for Elephants
So as it turns out, the precious pair of elephants seem to have had some good luck. Perhaps it was the abundant rain prior to their birth that helped these calves out by creating plenty of green grass, or maybe it’s simply thanks to having such a seasoned mother as Paru to look after them.
Image: Facebook/Amboseli Trust for Elephants
The special siblings, now named Katito and Norah, have joined a herd that’s among the largest at the reserve. And apparently the whole family have been chipping in to help look after them. According to Amboseli, the twins’ older sister, Padua, is a particularly keen babysitter.
Image: YouTube/ODN
Amboseli’s rangers have been closely watching the twins, too, and are doing everything they can to make sure the animals continue to thrive in the wild. “We are really proud, and we are now monitoring, and we are ensuring that the babies are in good health,” Ole Nashu told ODN.
Image: Facebook/Amboseli Trust for Elephants
Thankfully, the brother and sister are in very capable hands. The Amboseli Trust for Elephants happens to run a well-established elephant research program. Since 1972, in fact, its members have been studying these majestic mammals and learning as much as they can in order to continue to protect them.
Image: Pablo Necochea
Other than Norah and Katito, there has only been one other set of twins born at Amboseli – and that was 38 years ago. Paru’s offspring join Equinox and Eclipse in the record books, two very special calves born in June 1980 to matriarch Estella.
Image: Facebook/Amboseli Trust for Elephants
And today, against all odds, Equinox and Eclipse are also thriving. They’re all grown up now and have children and even grandchildren of their own. Let’s hope that Paru’s adorable twins are able to follow in their very special footsteps.

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