In the early hours of the morning on March 4, 18-year-old Noorjahan, one of Twycross Zoo’s four Asian Elephants, gave birth to a healthy female calf after a hefty 22-month long pregnancy! The young calf has yet to receive a name, but is now on view to the public with the rest of the elephant herd.
Dr. Charlotte Macdonald, Head of Life Sciences, said: "The calf was born at approximately 2:30 a.m. and was up on its feet after a matter of minutes. The infant has bonded very well with mum, who is doing an exceptional job of taking care of her."
The young calf will suckle an incredible 2.9 gallons (11 liters) of milk a day from her mother until she is approximately 12 months old, after which she will also begin to take solids such as vegetables, fruit and hay. When she reaches adulthood, just like her mother, she will be munching her way through four bales of hay, several buckets of vegetables and fruit and numerous gallons of water a day to wash it all down!
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Head of Veterinary Services Sarah Chapman said, "We have a natural all-female family herd at Twycross and so Noorjahan was artificially inseminated.
"This birth was another herd birth at Twycross Zoo with the mother having access to different substrates and lots of space, with the rest of the herd close at hand for support. The herd's behavior was monitored by the vet and animal teams via CCTV and it was good to see that all members of the herd were very excited by the new arrival and very interested in the infant. The birth was very quick which is great for both Noorjahan and the calf. The calf was able to stand with the help of her mother and that fact that she was on a deep bed of sand helped her soft feet to grip for her to take her first steps. All the females continue to take a huge interest in the calf and are very protective of her. This is perfectly natural, with aunties playing a very important 'babysitting' role in the natural herd structure."
Asian Elephants are classified as an Endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, and their numbers in the wild are suffering severely due to habitat destruction and poaching from the ivory trade.