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article imageAustralian miracle baby elephant formally named 'Miracle'

By Imogen Jacobs     Mar 25, 2010 in Environment
Sydney - Goodbye Mr Shuffles, hello Pathi Ham. Taronga Zoo’s miracle baby elephant has been formally named in a ceremony today. The meaning of the name in Thai? Miracle.
A fitting name for the elephant calf that veterinarians and elephant experts all believed to have died inside his mother’s womb during labour.
Pathi Ham was originally nicknamed Mr Shuffles for his early walking attempts that zoo staff likened to the shuffle of an elderly man. NSW Environment Minister Frank Sartor admitted at the ceremony that the nickname would most likely stick to the 130kg elephant calf.
Cameron Kerr, the Zoo’s Director explained that a naming ceremony highlights the cultural heritage of the elephants that came from Thailand in 2006. Though two elephants have been born at the Zoo, Pathi Ham and Luk Chai, his cousin, their mothers came to Australia in 2006.
“The Zoo is grateful to the Thai Consul General, Khun Kiattikhun Chartprasert, to the monks including Pra Ratcha Silaporn, and Reverend Crews for making this a special day,” Mr Kerr said. After Pathi Ham was officially named, monks gave him a blessing.
Also at the ceremony was the Thai consul general Kiattikhun Chartprasert who told the crowd that Pathi Ham’s miracle birth celebrated “the beauty of life while respecting the possibility of death at the same time.”
The news of Pathi Ham surviving the difficult birth had reactions from all over the world. He is the first elephant to have survived a complicated birth. Whilst in his mother he turned upside down and his head was stuck under her pelvis. Experts believed he would die before he was born, when in fact he fell into a coma. On March 10 he was born alive, and had to be monitored for 24 hours by zoo staff. Since then, Pathi Ham has slowly increased in strength and health.
There has been criticism from groups over whether elephants should be bred in Australia, and through artificial insemination. Mr Sartor rebuked the criticism, saying that “there are as few as 34,000 Asian Elephants remaining in the wild so the people of NSW can feel proud of Taronga’s conservation efforts to support these animals.”
Pathi Ham is the first elephant calf born in Taronga Zoo by artificial insemination. The zoo community and the public were given a list of seven names to choose from when voting what to name the newest addition to the elephant family.
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