Rare twin elephants in Thailand receive blessings from monks a week after their tumultuous birth

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BANGKOK (AP) — Buddhist monks in Thailand blessed twin baby elephants, one male and the other female, on Friday, a week after their rare birth nearly turned into a tragedy.

Their mother, Chamchuri, gave birth to the couple on the night of June 7 at a camp in Thailand’s ancient capital Ayutthaya, a popular tourist destination 80 kilometers north of Bangkok.

Births of twin elephants are rare, and male-female twins even rarer. The Ayutthaya Elephant Palace & Royal Kraal, home to the newborns, said it was a first for the province, while a statement from the Thai government said they were the third-largest couple in the world.

The two are the fourth and fifth offspring of the 30-year-old mother elephant.

The caretakers at the elephant camp had expected to help deliver a baby, but when a second cub fell from its mother’s womb 18 minutes later, they were shocked.

The elephant keepers, who are called mahouts in Asia had to act quickly to prevent the equally shocked mother from accidentally injuring her new daughter.

One of the mahouts, Charin Somwang, broke his leg when he stepped between the mother and her offspring to prevent the tragedy. He told the Thai newspaper Daily News that it is normal for a mother elephant to step up after birth and gently prod her to check if she is still alive. But the second baby, the female, appeared too weak to undergo such treatment, he said.

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

Monks from Wat Traimit in Bangkok came to bless the twins on Friday as part of merit ceremonies for the occasion. The calves were then presented with a tray of bananas and cartons of milk.

Elephants are a big part of that Thailand’s national identity and have been officially declared 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.

Deforestation was once essential for logging and left many elephants without jobs. While a dwindling population of wild elephants roams the remaining forests, many are kept in animal shelters or used as elephant enclosures. living props at tourist attractions.

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