Austrian minister thanks elephant that aided virus guidance

VIENNA (AP) — Austria’s economy minister has become the symbolic godmother of a young elephant, in a nod of thanks after the government used a cartoon of the large mammal as a reference to help people put pandemic distancing recommendations into perspective.

Margarete Schramboeck was named godmother to Kibali the elephant in a ceremony at Vienna’s Schoenbrunn Zoo on Monday. To help Austrians envision keeping the recommended one-metre apart, Schramboeck said authorities had spread the message it was “the length of a baby elephant”.

A government video had showed a cartoon of a baby elephant to drive the point home.

Schramboeck said, “most people, and certainly myself, thought of Kibali.”

Now one-year-old, Kibali has grown past the Austrian coronavirus distance guidance to 1.4 metres long.

Elephant baby Kibali enjoys her birthday cake besides her mother Numbi at the Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria. PHOTO: AP