• Kyodo

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An elephant at Ueno Zoo had a miscarriage Monday, about four months after being confirmed as the first Asian elephant to get pregnant at the Tokyo zoo since it opened in 1882.

Authi, 18, had been expected to give birth around June or July next year, zoo officials said Tuesday. Blocked blood flow caused by a twisted umbilical cord may have caused the miscarriage, which does not appear to have had a major impact on Authi’s health, according to the zoo.

“We had assumed a fetus was growing steadily, so it is regrettable,” zoo official Mikako Kaneko said.

Born in 1998 in Thailand, the female elephant arrived at the zoo in 2002 along with a male elephant named Artid, 19, as a gift from Thailand in celebration of the birth the year before of Princess Aiko, the only child of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako.

The zoo announced in early September that Authi was pregnant. She showed signs of pregnancy after zookeepers made her stay together with Artid in October last year, and the fetus was observed using an ultrasound in July, according to the zoo.

It is difficult to breed Asian elephants in captivity and only 11 successful cases have been reported in Japan.

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