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Zoo elephant taking to motherhood role

UPI News Service, 06/28/2011 

An elephant at the St. Louis zoo has given birth to her second calf and is much more comfortable in her motherhood role, zoo officials said.

After giving birth to a female calf Friday, Rani the Asian elephant is teaching the calf how to nurse and curl up beneath her, keepers said.

"That is what we wanted to see and what we expected to see," Martha Fischer, mammal curator at the zoo, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "They're still in a bonding period.

"The first time Rani gave birth, she wasn't entirely comfortable but now that she knows more about motherhood, it shows."

Rani's delivery of her first calf in 2007 did not go as smoothly, with her rejecting her calf, Jade, who had to be nursed by Ellie, Rani's mother, who was also nursing her own year-old calf.

The unconventional arrangement worked and Rani eventually accepted Jade, zoo officials said.

"That practice with Jade really helps," Fischer said. "She is a little clumsier than Ellie at motherhood but she's doing a great job guiding the calf to her to nurse.

"She covers her up with hay. Since the birth to now, she's gotten much better at a lot of mothering techniques."

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Copyright 2011 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any repr

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