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ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s new Asian Elephant made a grand entrance into the world and arrived just a few days ahead of the zoo’s ‘Elephantastic Weekend’. 

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ZSL Whipsnade_BabyElephant_3Photo Credits: Natasha Jefferies (1); Jenny Soppet Smith (2); ZSL Whipsnade Zoo (3,4,5,6,7)

The brand new male calf was born September 16th to fourth-time mother, Azizah, in one of the zoo’s large grassy paddocks. Other members of the herd of ten Asian Elephants were nearby, showing their support for Azizah as her labor progressed, including the new calf’s siblings. Under the elephant breeding program, nine elephants have been born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

Assistant Curator of Elephants, Lee Sambrook said, “It was wonderful to be able to witness a herd birth at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. We have a great track record with the elephant breeding program here, but seeing a baby born with all his aunties and uncles around in such a natural environment was an incredible privilege. Elephants are such social animals and you could see that the rest of the herd’s presence was just what Azizah needed to stay calm and do what she needed to do. The team of vets and keepers were standing by and monitoring her development, but it was so fantastic that the birth happened naturally, and with the herd’s help, rather than ours."

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s ‘Elephantastic Weekend’ was held September 20th and 21st.  It was planned to coincide with the world-wide Elephant Appreciation Day, and helps to raise money for elephant conservation and research projects, through fun family activities, fascinating talks, and unforgettable elephant encounters.

The Asian Elephant is native to Southeast Asia from India in the west to Borneo in the east. They are currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.  In the wild, the pre-eminent threats to Asian Elephants are: loss, degradation and fragmentation of habitat, and poaching for ivory, meat and leather.

More amazing photos below the fold!

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