Rare Twin Elephants Surprise Caretakers in Thailand

Buddhist monks bestowed blessings on twin baby elephants, one male and the other female, last Friday. The twins’ rare birth, which took place a week earlier, had nearly turned into a tragedy.

Their mother, Chamchuri, gave birth to the pair on the night of June 7 at a camp in Ayutthaya, Thailand’s ancient capital and a popular tourist destination located 50 miles north of Bangkok.

Twin elephant births are an uncommon occurrence, and male-female twins are even more rare. The Ayutthaya Elephant Palace & Royal Kraal, home to the newborns, claims this is the first such birth in the province. A statement from the Thai government declared that these twins are only the third pair of their kind in the world.

The two newborns are the 30-year-old mother elephant’s fourth and fifth offspring.

Caretakers at the elephant camp were expecting to assist with the delivery of a single baby. However, when a second offspring emerged from the mother’s womb 18 minutes later, they were taken aback by the surprise.

The elephant caretakers, known as mahouts, had to act swiftly to prevent the equally startled mother from accidentally injuring her new daughter.

One of the mahouts, Charin Somwang, suffered a broken leg while intervening between the mother and her offspring to avert a potential tragedy. He recounted to Thailand’s Daily News newspaper that it is customary for a mother elephant to step on and gently prod her newborn after birth to check if it is alive. However, he noted that the second baby, the female, appeared too weak to withstand that kind of treatment.

On Saturday, Charin was discharged from the hospital and was delighted to learn that both babies were healthy.

Monks from Wat Traimit in Bangkok conducted blessing ceremonies for the twins last Friday as part of merit-making rituals. Following the blessings, the calves were presented with a tray of bananas and cartons of milk.

a big part of Thailand’s national identity and have been officially proclaimed a symbol of the nation. Thai kings rode elephants into battle and a white elephant, considered a sacred symbol of royal power, adorned the Thai flag until 1917.

Once essential to the logging trade, deforestation left many elephants without jobs, and while a shrinking population of wild ones roam the remaining forests, many are kept at animal shelters or used as living props at tourist sites.