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Third Baby Elephant Makes History in Indianapolis!

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African Elephant Kubwa has given birth to her third calf, making history once again as the first African Elephant in the world to conceive and give birth successfully via artificial insemination three times. The newest member of the Indianapolis Zoo herd is a female born at on July 20 and weighing in at 238 lbs., a very good size for a baby African Elephant.

The calf nursed many times during the first day and Kubwa again demonstrated very good mothering instincts. As has been the case with all of her calves, the new little one initially needs a bit of help to reach the source of mom’s milk. Kubwa is a very tall elephant, so a small step stool arrangement has been used so the calf can step up with her two front legs and stretch up to nurse. It has worked very well in the past, and it appears our new, very lively little girl learned the trick quickly – trainers report she is nursing frequently!

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Photo credits: Gabi Moore / Indianapolis Zoo

The Indianapolis Zoo has long been a leader in elephant reproduction research, activities that created the foundation that has allowed the Zoo to have five successful elephant births since 2000. They are also involved in helping save elephants in Africa by partnering with Dr. Charles Foley and the Tarangire Elephant Project in Tanzania to protect migration corridors from Tarangire National park to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Tarangire National Park is located in the heart of Maasai land.

The Park is an important refuge for animals during dry periods and is home to the fastest growing herd of elephants on the African continent, as well as wildebeest, zebra, antelopes and a host of carnivores. The Maasai are pastoralists and do not usually come into conflict with the wildlife with which they share their land, but in recent years the Maasai have allowed other tribes to grow crops in their traditional grazing range around the park. The result is that traditional migration routes used by the park’s animals have been disrupted by human settlement and agriculture. The Tarangrie Elephant Project is working to stop human encroachment into the last remaining open migration corridors by providing local inhabitants with economic incentives and providing protection to the animals when they leave the Park.

In addition, the Indianapolis Prize was last awarded in 2010 to Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder and director of Save the Elephants, the world’s leading elephant research organization.  In addition to the $100,000 Indianapolis Prize, the Indianapolis Zoo works with Iain to help promote and sustain his vital work in Kenya..