Staff at the Prague Zoo are celebrating the April 5 birth of a male Asian Elephant, the first to be both conceived and born at the zoo.
Other Elephants have been born at the zoo, but they were conceived at other zoos, and the females were subsequently moved to Prague. Elephants are pregnant for an average of 640 days.
Photo Credit: Miroslav Bobek/Prague Zoo
This was the first baby for female Janita and male Tamara. Keepers monitored Janita closely in the weeks leading up to her due date. Levels of progesterone were measured frequently – these levels drop to nearly zero when the birth is imminent.
Keepers were present during the birth and monitored this first-time mom closely. Though the birth went smoothly, Janita became aggressive toward her calf immediately after the birth. The zoo’s veterinarians say that this is not unusual in inexperienced Elephant moms and may be attributed to the pain associated with giving birth. To keep the calf safe, keepers pulled him aside while Janita quieted down.
The baby was then gradually brought closer to his mother, and her behavior changed. About four hours after the birth, the baby nursed from Janita.
Keepers report that both Janita and her baby are progressing well. Asian Elephants are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, due to loss and fragmentation of habitat. Elephants require huge home ranges to survive, so there are frequent conflicts with humans as their ranges shrink. Elephants are also hunted illegally for their ivory tusks, which are present only in male Asian Elephants, though females may have small tusks present inside the mouth.