September 20, 2017 / 1:49 PM / 2 years ago

It's a boy! Belgian zoo delighted at Asian elephant's birth

A newborn Asian elephant is pictured with members of its family at the Pairi Daiza wildlife park, a zoo and botanical garden in Brugelette, Belgium September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A healthy male Asian elephant was born at a Belgian zoo on Tuesday in what keepers say is welcome news for their breeding program after the death of a calf last year.

After 22 months of gestation and 10 hours of labor, elephant matriarch Khan Hnin Hnin gave birth in the early hours of Tuesday at Pairi Daiza zoo in the south of Belgium.

“Khaing Hnin Hnin is a really experienced she pretty much knew what to do,” Tim Bouts, director of the zoological department and veterinarian, said.

“He was also standing within minutes, and within two hours, he already had his first sip of milk, so everything went really well.”

It is the third time an elephant was born at the zoo and is its first male. One female calf died after being born with brain damage last summer.

The zoo is asking visitors to name the elephant in an online vote which will be active on Pairi Daiza’s Facebook page within the next few weeks.

The zoo is home to Europe’s largest elephant herd in captivity, with 15 Asian and three African elephants.

Reporting by Lily Cusack; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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