A healthy elephant calf was born early this morning at WILDLANDS Adventure Zoo Emmen, The Netherlands. It was soon clear that it is a male, after which his keepers gave him the name Nagarr . That's "little dragon" in Burmese. It is the first time that mother Swe Zin (herself born on August 8, 2007 at Emmen) has given birth to a calf. Security footage shows that she gave birth lying down, which has not been observed before by the animal caretakers in Emmen in an elephant delivery.
Father of the newborn Nagarr is elephant bull Timber. In 2020, Timber came from Diergaarde Blijdorp Rotterdam to Emmen especially for a successful breeding with Swe Zin, because the previous breeding bull showed no interest in her. The pregnancy was important for the health of this female. Most elephant females become mothers for the first time before their twentieth birthday. They usually have one young at a time.
In elephants, childbirth takes place in the family group. The aunts play a major role in childbirth. They protect the vulnerable mother. The other elephants also help when the calf has to get on its feet. At the moment, the herd is with the youngest addition inside the park's large tropical greenhouse, so that the young can relax and nurse well. Little Nagarr does not leave his mother's side and aunt Ma Yay Yee also keeps a close eye on him too. The rest of the family group is also always nearby. An elephant has an average gestation period of 22 months. The last calf to be born at WILDLANDS was in February 2021; the bull Ka Yan.
In total, the WILDLANDS herd now numbers twelve elephants; three grown females, one grown bull, seven young bulls, and this newborn calf. They usually live in two groups at WILDLANDS; the family herd with the ladies and younger bulls and a men's group. To keep the population of Asian elephants in zoos genetically healthy, there is a breeding program, called the EEP. This is a kind of matchmaking agency that keeps the genetic variation of the elephants as great as possible. Unrelated breeding pairs are formed from a carefully maintained studbook. Diergaarde Blijdorp coordinates the international breeding program for Asian elephants.