A baby Asian Elephant arrived to the sound of a trumpeting herd on June 16 at Planckendael in Belgium.
Photo Credit: Jonas Verhulst
Mom Phyo Phyo delivered her female calf, named Qiyo, surrounded by her five female herdmates and offspring in a special sand-floored stable in the zoo’s Elephant barn. This scenario mimics the way Elephants deliver their calves in the wild.
In the video below, you can hear loud trumpeting as the calf falls to the ground amid the birth fluids. Her arrival causes quite a stir as the other Elephants reach out to touch the newborn with their trunks.
Phyo Phyo had a normal 22-month-long pregnancy, and her experience rearing four other calves is a huge advantage for the new baby. Within just 15 minutes, Qiyo stood on her shaky legs, and just a half hour later, she was nursing. Zoo keepers estimate Qiyo’s birth weight at about 190 pounds.
Phyo Phyo is an excellent mother and protects Qiyo from the zoo’s two playful and curious juvenile Elephants, Kai-Mook and May Tagu. By having the other female Elephants present at the birth, their chances of successfully caring for their own future babies is greatly increased.
Qiyo’s father, Chang, was not present for the birth, which is just as it would be in nature. Chang is a gentle Elephant and the zoo staff expects to introduce him to Qiyo very soon.
Asian Elephants are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They survive in small fragments of forest scattered across southeast Asia.
See more photos and video of the baby Elephant below.