Night Safari, in Singapore, received a gigantically-sweet, early birthday surprise this year, in the form of a 149kg (328 lb.) baby Asian Elephant, born May 12.
The big bundle of joy arrived 14 days ahead of the award-winning park’s 22nd anniversary, which fell on May 26, 2016.
Sri Nandong, Night Safari’s 30-year-old female Asian Elephant, surprised her animal keepers when she gave birth to the bouncy calf in the elephant exhibit, during operation hours. Keepers had been aware that she was pregnant but did not expect the baby to arrive so soon. An elephant’s gestation period usually lasts between 22-24 months, making it the longest pregnancy in the animal kingdom.
The latest addition to the herd is the park’s first elephant birth in six years. The calf has gained 43kg (95 lb.) since birth, and now weighs a hefty 192kg (423 lb.). The gentle, yet inquisitive, calf was sired by 39-year-old Chawang at Night Safari. With this birth, Night Safari is now home to three female and two male elephants.
Photo Credits: Wildlife Reserves Singapore
The calf still relies mainly on mother’s milk, but is starting to use its trunk to explore solid food. Visitors can witness the close bond between mother and baby at the Asian Elephant Exhibit from late June onwards.
For now, the as-yet-unnamed calf enjoys time getting to know the elephant ‘aunties’ Jamilah and Tun, frolicking in a little play pool, and going for short walks to get used to the surroundings.
The Asian or Asiatic Elephant (Elephas maximus) is the only living species of the genus Elephas and is native to Southeast Asia from India in the west to Borneo in the east. Three subspecies are recognized: E. m. maximus from Sri Lanka, the E. m. indicus from mainland Asia, and E. m. sumatranus from the island of Sumatra. Asian Elephants are the largest living land animals in Asia.
Since 1986, E. maximus has been listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, as the population has declined by at least 50% over the last three generations (estimated to be 60–75 years). Asian Elephants are primarily threatened by degradation, fragmentation and loss of habitat, and poaching.
In general, the Asian Elephant is smaller than the African Elephant and has the highest body point on the head. The back is convex or level. The ears are small with dorsal borders folded laterally. It has up to 20 pairs of ribs and 34 caudal vertebrae. The feet have more nail-like structures than those of African Elephant: five on each forefoot, and four on each hind foot.
Night Safari, the world’s first nocturnal wildlife park, is a 12-time winner of the Best Attraction category awarded by Singapore Tourism Board. In 2014, the park also received an Exceptional Achievement Award in the Special Recognition category for winning the Best Visitor Attraction Experience award consecutively for three years.
This internationally acclaimed leisure attraction embodies innovation and creativity in products and services, and service quality, thus attracting more than 1.1 million visitors annually. More than 1,000 animals from close to 120 species (of which almost 35% are threatened) inhabit the 35-hectare park.
In line with its mission to promote biodiversity, the park focuses on the captive breeding of threatened species. Over the years, it has bred Malayan tigers, Asian elephants, fishing cats, red dholes, anoas, markhors, bantengs, Malayan tapirs and Asian lions, among other endangered species.
A visitor’s experience at Night Safari is not limited to animals but extends to experiential dining segments with the park’s award winning Gourmet Safari Experience, where visitors dine onboard a tram traversing the seven geographical zones. The park can be explored either on foot via four walking trails, or by tram. Night Safari is part of Wildlife Reserves Singapore and is a designated rescued wildlife centre by the governing authority.
Night Safari is located at 80 Mandai Lake Road Singapore 729826. More information can be found at www.nightsafari.com.sg