Elephant

Zoo Vienna's Elephant Calf is a Conservation Success

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At Zoo Vienna, the wait is over: after a lengthy gestation period of 645 days, Tonga the African Elephant brought a baby into the world. The little pachyderm, born on September 4, is a female.  She follows her mother's every step with clumsy feet, and nurses about every half hour. Zoo Staff have picked out three names to chose from but haven't decided on the perfect one yet. 

This is the second offspring for 28-year-old Tonga, who has lived at the zoo since 1998. Her first calf was born in 2003.  Says Zoo Director Dagmar Schratter, "Tonga is the matriarch of our herd and generally a very balanced animal."  She is devoted and caring mother, and will be raising for her own baby. For now, Tonga and her calf will live separate from the rest of the herd, to ensure that they will be able to bond and rest together. 

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Photo credits: Zoo Vienna

For Zoo Vienna, the coordinator of the European studbook for African Elephants, this is the fourth birth. Worldwide, the little elephant is a sensation: she is the first calf conceived through artificial insemination using frozen semen. The father is a wild bull from the Phinda Gamer Reserve in Africa, who was placed under general anesthesia for the collection.  

Artificial insemination is now routine in African Elephant breeding - but only with fresh or chilled semen. To transport the sperm of a wild bull of Africa in a European zoo, but it had to be frozen. But the sperm of elephants are extremely sensitive: only two cases using frozen and thawed sperm had resulted in a fertilization, and both pregnancies ended early. The successful new technique was developed by a team from the Berlin Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research. 

This new method is a great opportunity: it can be used to help strengthen the genetics of not only elephants, but of other endangered species in captivity as well. This little elephant is a positive result of a successful collaboration between the Vienna Zoo and Berlin Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), the Zooparc de Beauval and the Pittsburgh Zoo.


Fort Worth Zoo's Asian Elephant Herd Grows, Again!

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On August 5, Fort Worth Zoo celebrated the birth of its second Asian Elephant calf of the summer (third in the Zoo's history). The male calf, named Bowie, comes just 30 days after Belle, feature last month on ZooBorns. Bowie is born to first-time mother Bluebonnet, the first Asian Elephant born at Forth Worth Zoo. Rasha, Bluebonnet's mother, gave birth to Belle. Bowie's birth makes Rasha a grandmother and Belle an aunt. The Zoo now houses three generations of elephants! The multigenerational family mimics the way herds are established in the wild. Fort Worth is home to 7 Asian Elephants total; there are 4 females and 3 males.

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Bowie's name is a familiar one to Texans. Jim Bowie was a legendary figure of the American frontier. He played a prominent role in the Texas Revolution and eventually died at the Alamo.

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Foth Worth Zoo established breeding program in 1986 and has become an international leader in elephant conservation. Zoo Executive Director Michael Fouraker served as the president of the International Elephant Foundation (IEF) for nine years and currently serves on the organization’s board of directors and as president-elect of the board. Asian Elephants have been endagered since 1967, threatened by habitat destruction and poaching for ivory.

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More photos below the fold!

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At Ramat Gan Safari, Mother and Grandmother Asian Elephants Raise Calf Together

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When the elephant keepers at Ramat Gan Safari Park in Israel arrived on the morning of August 2, they found a newborn Asian Elephant calf. After 22 months of anticipation, it finally happened- the 7 year-old cow, La Belle, had given birth to a beautiful female. The calf has been given the Sanskrit name Latangi, meaning 'thin girl', because she was born weighing 70-80 kg, far less than the 100 kg that is usual for an Asian Elephant calf. 

For now it seems that the young calf is doing well, despite her low weight at birth. She nurses from both her mother and her grandmother. 25 year-old La Petite, La Belle's mother, is very active in the life of the newborn, and is also pregnant herself. This is La Belle's first time to give birth, and it may be that her mother is trying to show her the ropes. The pleased father is a 53 year-old male, Motek. This birth is an important occasion as Asian Elephants are an endangered species. Every calf born contributes to the conservation efforts of these animals. 

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Photo credits: Ramat Gan Safari / Tibor Jager. Last picture: Yael Hermon. Clip 1: Tibor Jager. Clip 2: Yael Hermon.

See videos of the newborn calf with her family:

 

 

See more photos after the fold!

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Splish Splash, Belle Takes a Bath

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Belle, a female Asian Elephant calf born on July 7, recently got in some serious playtime with a hose and inflatable kiddie pool at the Fort Worth Zoo.

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Photo Credit:  Fort Worth Zoo

 

Belle’s arrival was chronicled on ZooBorns last month.  She received her name through an online voting contest organized by the zoo.  Belle is named for bluebells, which are common Texas wildflowers that symbolize humility and gratitude. She is only the second Elephant calf ever born at the Fort Worth Zoo.

Asian Elephants are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Poaching of the males for their ivory tusks, habitat loss, and human settlement continue to threaten the species.  Belle is an important addition to the zoo population because zoo birthrates are very low.

See more photos of pachyderm pool time below the fold.

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Little Elephant Meets Big Athlete

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An oldie but goodie... last year this two-week-old orphaned African Elephant named Kinango bonded with retired professional basketball player Yao Ming on the athlete’s visit to Daphne Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage in Kenya.

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Photo Credit:  Kristian Schmidt for WildAid

Kinango was one of more than 150 orphaned Elephants fostered at the orphanage since its founding in 1977.  The calves often come to the facility after their parents are killed for the ivory trade.  Elephants are also under intense pressure from nearby human settlements, human conflict, deforestation, and drought. 

Once the calves are ready to live independently, a process that can take years, they are reintegrated with the herds at nearby Tsavo National Park.  Many of the once-orphaned calves have gone on to produce their own healthy offspring. 

Yao Ming's 2012 trip journey through Africa helped raise awareness of the poaching crisis facing Elephants and Rhinos.  Daphne Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage is part of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

See more photos of Kinango below the fold.

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Baby Elephant Born at Lowry Park Zoo Makes Important Genetic Contribution

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She’s not royalty, but the newest baby at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is sure to capture a “ton” of attention. Just seven months after the Zoo welcomed a new baby African Elephant, another was born - this one on July 29 to first-time mother Matjeka. The other Mom, Mbali, and her 7-month-old daughter, Mpumi, were at Matjeka’s side during her brief labor. 

This calf is the second born at the Zoo from a herd of 11 elephants rescued from culling in Swaziland, Africa, and brought to the U.S. a decade ago. As with the female calf born last December, this newborn, sired by Sdudla, is significant to the population because the calf introduces new DNA into the gene pool of elephants managed in North America, which averages just three or four births each year. She is the first African Elephant calf born in 2013 in the population managed by AZA-accredited zoos and wildlife centers in North America, the second born in Tampa from the Swaziland herd, and the third born in the Zoo’s 25-year history.

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Photo Credit: Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

The new baby got to meet little Mpumi (see above) behind the scenes, who has become a fast friend. For now, Matjeka and her calf will remain off exhibit for further bonding like this and introductions to the rest of the females in the herd before returning to the outdoor yard in full view of Zoo guests.

Read more on this important conservation story, and see more pictures, after the fold:

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First Photos of Kolmården Zoo's Elephant Calf

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A male Asian Elephant calf born on July 27 at Sweden’s Kolmarden Zoo posed for his first photos when he was just two days old. He weighed 191 pounds (87 kg) at birth, and you can see from the photos that he is strong and hungry!

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Photo Credits:  Sofia Andersson (2,4,7,10,11)  Rickard Sjödén (1,3,5,6,8,9)

 

The calf’s mother, Bua, was a gift to the King of Sweden from the King of Thailand in 2004.  Bua was artificially inseminated in November 2011. The calf’s father is an Elephant from the United Kingdom. 

Asian Elephants are found in fragmented populations throughout Southeast Asia, where they are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They are slightly smaller than African Elephants, and are tamed for use in logging operations in remote jungle areas. 

See more photos of the Elephant calf below the fold.

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Emmen Zoo Celebrates 25th Elephant Birth

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On July 15, Emmen Zoo in the Netherlands welcomed a healthy male Asian Elephant calf. Mother Htoo Yin Aye gave birth outside at 6 p.m. as visitors looked on. The calf is the 25th elephant to be born at Emmen Zoo. He enjoys spending time outside every day with his mother, father Radza, sister, and two older brothers. He is pictured here with his family at just one day old. 

The calf weighed about 220 pounds (100 kg) at birth, an average size. It takes a long time to grow such a big baby; the gestation period of an elephant is longer than that of any other mammal, lasting 22 months. They are also long-lived animals, sometimes reaching 70 years of age in the wild. Asian Elephants are an endangered species, living in small, isolated populations in south and southeast Asia. They are similar to African Elephants, but have a smaller body size and more rounded ears, which they use to radiate excess heat from the body. There may be only 30,000 to 50,000 Asian Elephants left in the wild. Wide-ranging herbivores, they are important seed-dispersers that help to maintain biodiversity in grasslands and forests.  

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Photo credits: Emmen Zoo

See more photos of the family after the fold.  

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Fort Worth Zoo Celebrates Asian Elephant Birth

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Fort Worth Zoo announced the birth of a 330-pound, 38-inch tall female Asian Elephant calf on July 7.  This calf is only the second Elephant ever born at the zoo.

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Photo Credit:  Fort Worth Zoo

 
Rasha, the zoo’s 40-year-old Asian Elephant, gave birth to the baby, her second, after a 22-month gestation. Rasha was carefully monitored throughout her entire pregnancy. As part of her prenatal care, she received weekly blood tests to monitor progesterone levels, regular physical examinations, and sonograms. The calf’s father is Groucho, a 43-year-old bull who is currently on loan to the Denver Zoo.

Both mother and calf are in great condition at this time. The initial bonding between an Elephant calf and its mother is vital to a successful rearing.   

The public is invited to help name the calf through July 25 on the zoo’s website.

Listed as endangered since 1976, the Asian Elephant is threatened by drastic habitat alteration and the poaching of male Elephants for their ivory tusks. Because birth rates are low in the wild and in zoos, the birth of this calf is important to the future of the species.


UPDATE: Asian Elephant Calf Debuts at Saint Louis Zoo

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On May 22, a three-week-old Asian Elephant calf met her fans for the first time at the Saint Louis Zoo.  Born April 26, the female calf, named Priya, was with her mother Ellie and older sister Maliha at her debut.

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Photo Credit: Ray Meibaum (1, 2, 3); Saint Louis Zoo (4)

 
During her first days of life, Priya met her aunties and older sisters who warmly welcomed her into the three-generation family.  As an experienced mother and grandmother, Ellie has provided excellent care for her calf. 

This is Ellie’s third baby and the fourth for the baby’s father Raja, the first Elephant ever born at the Saint Louis Zoo. 

The Saint Louis Zoo has been actively involved with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan for Asian Elephants. “Because Asian Elephants are so endangered in the wild, the birth of this Elephant is important to the conservation work we do with other North American zoos,” says Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner, Dana Brown President & CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo. “Together AZA-accredited zoos cooperatively manage the breeding of Asian Elephants to maintain healthy populations that are as genetically diverse and as demographically stable as possible.

“There are only between 35,000 and 50,000 Asian Elephants left in the wild, and they are facing extinction. Given the shrinking population of Asian Elephants, the Saint Louis Zoo shares a common vision with other professional Elephant conservation organizations and with our Elephant care colleagues—a vision that includes Elephants in the world’s future forever, both in zoos and in the wild.”