The enchanting elephant herd at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has recently welcomed a new member with the birth of a baby calf.
This adorable male African elephant, weighing 311 pounds, made a grand entrance into the group with his proud mother, Vasha, and ten other herd members.
A dedicated team of animal care professionals was on hand to assist with the birth, ensuring a safe and smooth arrival.
Vasha, a 25-year-old elephant, endured a remarkable 22-month gestation period, gaining over 800 pounds. Finally, the long-awaited moment arrived, and the herd witnessed the sixth addition to their family.
Although the newborn is yet to be named, his first steps are becoming stronger and more confident, thanks to the unwavering support of the animal care team. He is now successfully nursing by his caring mother, Vasha.
Animal Kingdom’s spokesperson revealed that Vasha has been bonding with her calf, gently touching him with her trunk and watching over him.
Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., the vice president of Disney’s Animal, Science, and Environment Programs, expressed her fascination with the natural bonding process between mother and calf.
The animal care team is delighted with the early interactions and will closely monitor the pair over the upcoming weeks.
The next significant milestone is for the calf to continue bonding with his mother, who will impart crucial lessons and protect him as he gradually becomes accustomed to the rest of the savannah herd.
Currently, Disney’s Animal Kingdom boasts one of North America’s largest African elephant herds, consisting of 12 elephants, four males, and eight females.
Vasha’s pregnancy resulted from artificial insemination, initiated in October 2009. Throughout her pregnancy, she received extensive pre-natal care.
Since early August, the diligent animal care teams have been tirelessly monitoring her progress, conducting regular ultrasounds and daily hormone monitoring to predict the onset of labor accurately.
In recent years, Disney’s animal care experts have significantly narrowed the birth window, allowing them to better prepare for the delivery. With this birth, the team had been on high alert since Monday, eagerly anticipating the arrival of the newest addition to their elephant family.
The new baby elephant is the sixth of its kind to be born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The other adorable members include Tufani (male, born in 2003), Kianga (female, born in 2004), Nadirah (female, born in 2005), Tsavo (male, born in 2008), and Luna (female, born in 2010).
Disney’s Animal Kingdom actively participates in a breeding program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
The program focuses on sustaining the elephant population in North America, aligning with AZA’s Elephant Species Survival Plan, which aims to increase African elephant reproduction efforts by five-fold using natural and artificial breeding methods.
This initiative is crucial for creating a self-sustaining elephant population in North American zoos and wildlife centers.
BABY ELEPHANT FACTS:
- The elephant’s gestation period is 22 months, the longest of any land animal.
- At birth, an elephant calf typically weighs 230 lbs and stands over two-and-a-half ft tall.
- Depending on the calf, it could take several days for the calf to coordinate trunk movements.
- Initially, it may only be able to wave it in the air, suck on it or trip over it. Typically within a week, the calf has gained enough control to begin picking up small objects and food.
- Suckling up to 12 liters a day, baby elephants may depend on their mother’s milk for up to three years, although they can be weaned at two years of age.
- Calves learn how and what to eat by watching the older elephants.
Read more Elephant News.