Elephant inadvertently killed by herd at Zurich Zoo

An inquest into the death of a male elephant calf concluded he was accidentally killed by the herd.

On August 19, 2020, an elephant cow named Omysha gave birth to her first calf. He was later kicked to death by the herd, prompting an internal investigation. Now zoo authorities say the reaction of herd members in the first few minutes after birth was normal. The herd encouraged the newborn to stand up using its head, trunk and feet. However, increasingly violent efforts to help the calf – due to a lack of response from the newborn – to stand eventually led to the animal’s death.

“Experts agree that the behavior of herd members after birth cannot be characterized as aggressive in this case,” the zoo said in a statement released Monday.

An evaluation of the video recordings, with the help of external zoologists and elephant experts from the European Endangered Species Program (EEP), concluded that the calf barely moved after birth. One of the reasons could be that he was weakened following a longer than normal delivery. No birth defects were detected during the autopsy.

The zoo insists it will continue its practice of facilitating births in a natural social environment for all of its animals, including elephants.

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