An Asian Elephant calf born three months after its due date has been named Anjan by zoo keepers at Chester Zoo.
The male calf, born May 17, astonished experts when he was born to mum Thi Hi Way last month following an assumed gestation of 25 months.
Because the typical gestation for Asian Elephants is about 22 months, scientists believed Thi, who was already a great-grandmother and matriarch of the herd, had started a natural resorption process.
Hormone tracking originally showed that Thi Hi Way was due to give birth in February, and after her due date passed, she was slowly returning to her normal weight.
But, despite the unusual circumstances, Thi gave birth to the healthy baby boy and zoo staff say both mother and calf are doing incredibly well.
Mike Jordan, Chester Zoo’s Collections Director, said, “Thi is a wonderful matriarch to our family herd and a really experienced mum. She has successfully given birth to seven calves before, but this time around circumstances were really quite astonishing.”
“We believed Thi had exceeded her normal gestation period, which we were monitoring closely. Her hormone levels, behaviour and drop in weight gave us every indication that she may have been resorbing the calf – a natural process that some Elephants experience. However, nature always has that incredible ability to surprise you and that was certainly the case,” Jordan said.
Asian Elephants are listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, threatened by habitat loss, poaching, disease and direct conflict with humans.
Conservationists from Chester Zoo have been working to combat these threats in the Elephant’s native India for more than twelve years, utilising the skills and knowledge developed working with the herd in Chester.
Zookeepers chose the name Anjan in honour of Anjan Nath, one of the leading conservation figures the zoo works with on a project in Assam, northern India, which has successfully eliminated conflict between local communities and the nearby Asian Elephant population, offering a blueprint for the future conservation of the species.
See more photos of Anjan below.