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One Masked Baby Meerkat Peeks Out from Behind Mom at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo's Baby Boom Continues with Birth of Second Elephant Calf

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Chester Zoo's Asian Elephant herd got a little larger with the arrival of a second calf in the space of less than 12 weeks... and it's a girl!  After a 22-month gestation, the baby was welcomed into the group at 11:00 p.m. on January 21, by 15-year-old Mom Sithami and eight other elephants. This is Sithami's third baby, so she is an experienced mom. Both she and her calf are doing well -- in fact, the baby was up on her feet within the first three minutes of life.

Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals, said, “The natural bonding between Mum and calf -- and the calf with the rest of the herd -- is fascinating and a truly wonderful thing to see. And we just hope that when people come and set eyes on them, they’re inspired to try and do something to help stop the persecution that these magnificent animals face in the wild."

“In India for example," Rowland continued, "elephants are all too often injured or even killed in conflicts with humans because they wander into villages and wreck crops and damage property and the villagers retaliate against them with force. However we run a great conservation program over there, which works hard to put an end to this, helping both man and beast live harmoniously. In fact, not a single elephant has been killed in the villages where we work for over a year! When people come and see our new baby, sometimes unbeknown to them, they’re helping fund this work in the wild. It’s vitally important.”

In December Chester Zoo invited the BBC's Earth Unplugged to meet the herd and cover this birth. You can see Part 1 of the series here, but watch Part 2 of this special report below, where host Chris Howard meets head Elephant Keeper Andy McKenzie to view the CCTV footage of the birth. 

Photo Credit:Chester Zoo

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Chester Zoo is part of a breeding program coordinated by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) that is focused on sustaining the elephant population in Europe. Sithami is already mum to Sundara, born in 2004 and Nayan, born in 2010. Sundara had her first baby on November 25 last year.

Rowlands added, "The arrival of an elephant calf is always a cause for celebration but to have two healthy calves in less than three months is absolutely fantastic." 

You can read our last article about the first calf, born in later November, here on ZooBorns.