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Update! Baby Elephant at San Diego Zoo Gets a Name

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You may have first read about this new baby African Elephant born on August 28 here on ZooBorns. This little female calf at San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park has just been named! She will be called Qinisa, a Siswati word that means to act with energy, act determinedly, fulfill one’s word, or speak the truth. The name is pronounced (!) EEN-EE-seh (! is a tongue pop instead of a q sound).

Her name is very fitting, as Qinisa has developed fastest of the 12 calves born to the herd. At only one week old she was sucking water into her trunk and using it to pick up objects like sticks. Dexterity like that has not been seen at such a young age among the other calves according to Curtis Lehman, San Diego Zoo Safari Park animal care manager. The other calves only exhibited that skill after at least a few weeks of age.



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Qinisa seems to be spending the least amount of time nursing compared to the others, but she is getting more than enough milk from mom Swazi. Qinisa is averaging a weight gain of 2.2 pounds (1 kgm) per day, having gained a total of 40 pounds (18 kilograms) in her first 21 days of life. 

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Photo Credit: Sand Diego Zoo Safari Park

Beside her quick learning curve, keepers have also observed how other elephants interact with her --whenever mom allows it. Big brother Mac is playing nice; then again, he’d better, or Mom would have a word or two with him. The adult females only interact occasionally, since they know to keep their distance from protective Swazi, the herd’s matriarch.

But the zoo’s two young female babysitters, 6-year-old Khosi and 5-year-old Kami, seem to have the most access to the calf and continue to compete for babysitting rights. They stay with the trio of Swazi, Mac, and Qinisa overnight, so Kami has the upper hand to get more time. Swazi seems to now be taking advantage of the two baby-sitters and wanders away from Qinisa when she naps... but not for long. If Qinisa wakes, Swazi quickly returns to her baby.