VIDEO SHOWS: ELEPHANT MOTHER WATCHING OVER NEW BORN BABY GIRL INSIDE ENCLOSURE / CARETAKER TALKING ABOUT THE BIRTH / REST OF THE HEARD OF ELEPHANTS EATING AND WALKING AROUND OUTSIDE ENCLOSURE EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS VIDEO THAT SOME MAY FIND DISTURBING AT SHOT 7 RESENDING WITH COMPLETE SCRIPT SHOWS: BRUGELETTE, BELGIUM (FEBRUARY 27, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1.
NEWBORN ELEPHANT CALF STANDING BY ITS MOTHER'S FEET 2.
VARIOUS OF ELEPHANT MOTHER AYE CHAN MAY AND NEW BORN BABY GIRL WALKING INSIDE ENCLOSURE 3.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) ELEPHANT ZOOKEEPER, ROB CONACHIE, SAYING: "Initial reaction was shock really cause it happened so fast.
I was here, we were checking on Aye Chan May, keeping an eye on her, making sure that she was comfortable and everything was fine, and she was showing me no signs at all of wanting to give birth at that time, but within minutes, I could already see the bulge at the bottom of her tail and you could see them starting to push and I was 'oh my god everybody' you know, 'everybody panic stations' but she was absolutely fine, she couldn't have been a better mom." 4.
VARIOUS OF ELEPHANT MOTHER AND BABY WALKING AROUND INSIDE ENCLOSURE 5.
BABY ELEPHANT APPROACHING CAMERA 6.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) ELEPHANT ZOOKEEPER, ROB CONACHIE, SAYING: "Elephants have a very long gestation, it's to build this incredible animal inside of them you know.
And that's why it's so special, their not only an endangered species, there's only sort of 38,000 Asian elephants left, you know, this is a serious really bad time for them.
So every single one that we have is crucially important to the European and worldwide breeding program of this endangered species." 7.
VARIOUS OF ELEPHANT MOTHER MAY AND BABY WALKING AROUND AND EATING INSIDE ENCLOSURE 8.
ELEPHANT MOTHER MAY AND BABY WALKING IN ENCLOSURE, BABY STUMBLING ON STEP 9.
BABY ELEPHANT NEAR ITS MOTHER 10.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) ELEPHANT ZOOKEEPER, ROB CONACHIE, SAYING: "She suckled very very quickly, she was up on her feet very very fast and she suckled and was feeding within three and a half hours no problem at all and she was also, you know, Aye Chan May, she came through it no problem at all.
It was all, it was a real textbook birth to be honest, it was very easy." BRUGELETTE, BELGIUM (FEBRUARY 26, 2019) (PAIRI DAIZA - ACCESS ALL) 11.
MOTHER ELEPHANT MAY GIVING BIRTH TO BABY GIRL 12.
BABY GIRL ELEPHANT STANDING UP BRUGELETTE, BELGIUM (FEBRUARY 27, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 13.
VARIOUS ELEPHANTS OF THE SAME HEARD WALKING AROUND AND EATING IN OUTSIDE ENCLOSURE 14.
PAIRI DAIZA EMBLEM 15.
ELEPHANT STATUES INSIDE ZOO 16.
VIEW OF ZOO STORY: Aye Chan May, a 23-year-old Asian elephant, gave birth to her first calf on Tuesday (February 26) at the Belgian zoo of Pairi Daiza.
The baby girl does not have a name yet as the zoo will leave it up to the public to help choose it through a vote on social media.
The very long gestation period of elephants, from 18 to 24 months, makes it a special event for the zoo caretakers when such a birth happens, even if this one is already the third at the zoo.
Zookeeper Rob Conachie, who is in charge of elephants at Pairi Daiza, said the birth was unexpectedly fast.
"She was showing me no signs at all of wanting to give birth at that time, but within minutes, I could already see the bulge at the bottom of her tail and you could see them starting to push," he told Reuters television on Wednesday (February 27).
Conachie, who has been taking care of elephants for over 20 years, said there are only around 38,000 Asian Elephants left in the world, making each birth a crucial event for the breeding programme of the species.
The zoo, which is currently closed to the public for the winter season, re-opens on April 6 and is expecting a new resident in the fall, a baby rhinoceros.
(Production: Margaret Madro, Bart Biesemans, Hortense de Roffignac)