A baby elephant who was born alive after being declared dead in its mother's womb has been described as a miracle by vets at a Sydney zoo.
The calf was born at Taronga Zoo yesterday, two days after he had been declared dead when vets and keepers had found no signs of life in his mother Porntip's womb.
Ultrasound images also confirmed the prognosis, as the baby elephant was in an upside down position, making it virtually impossible for the mother to give birth to a live baby.
Miracle: Zoo staff examine the newborn male elephant who shocked experts when he was born alive after being declared dead
Anxious mother Porntip the elephant looks on as staff examine her new baby
But in an extraordinary announcement yesterday the zoo announced that the male calf had been born alive in the early hours of the morning.
Zoo director Cameron Kerr said: 'Porntip's dedicated keepers reported the amazing news early this morning that the calf had been born and was showing signs of life.
'Taronga Zoo's veterinary team immediately rushed to the elephant to assist Porntip and the calf.'
When Porntip went into labour six days before the miraculous birth, keepers and veterinarians had not been able to establish any of the five vital signs that would have indicated the calf was still alive.
The baby elephant is helped to his feet, left; and right, his mother Porntip
Even Dr Thomas Hildebrandt, the zoo's senior veterinarian and a world-leading expert on elephant births, declared just last week that it would be a miracle if the calf was born alive.
Despite his jubilation at the live birth, he warned the calf is not out of danger yet.
He added: 'While this is incredible news, the young calf still has a long way to go.
'There are no guarantees of its long-term survival at this early stage but we hope that its birth against the odds will stand it in good stead.'
An early ultrasound shows the baby elephant
Even the other elephants in the zoo had appeared to have given up hope that the baby would be born alive.
While they had shown interest in Porntip during labour, they eventually began moving away from her - a sign that they knew something was wrong.
But it seemed that Porntip was determined she was going to help her 'upside down' baby.
Vets noticed the elephant was seen on several occasions trying to stand on her head, as if trying to turn the baby around.
Animal experts thought Porntip would have to carry her dead calf in her womb for several months before she could deliver it.
Yesterday's news that the baby had come into the world alive stunned Australians, who had read newspaper stories and seen and heard reports of the earlier sad news that the calf had died.
Porntip arrived at Taronga in 2006 from work camps in Thailand and was included in the zoo's conservation breeding program.
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