Asian festivities for Whipsnade baby elephant
Friday 16 July 2004
On Sunday 25 July, a priest from the Hare Krishna Temple in Watford and the Asian dance company, Kadam, will take part in a traditional Indian ceremony to name our baby Asian elephant at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park
The female calf, now four months old, was born on the 16 March this year to 22 year old mother, Kaylee, who carried her baby for 21 months. At birth our new arrival weighed 149kg, but she has now grown to 200kg. She has a fluffy layer of hair all over her body and is quite a character who loves rolling around in her morning bath!
The festivities will start at 2pm, with dancers from the Kadam Asian Dance Company, followed by the naming ceremony, which will involve chanting and traditional Indian blessings for the elephant.
"The birth of our Asian elephant is a great success for Whipsnade and we look forward to celebrating this with her naming ceremony," said Chris West, Zoological Director at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park.
For further information please contact the ZSL Press Office on 020 7449 6236
Out of office mobile: 07889 043 843
Notes to Editors
- The elephant paddock at Whipsnade covers an area of over seven acres and comprises of five linked outside areas including a large grass paddock as well as two separate houses. Additional facilities include two pools, mud wallows and dust baths, as well as rubbing posts, shades for summer and high level feeders
- Whipsnade has five female and one male elephant
- Diet: hay, fruit, twigs, small branches, bark & roots
Trunks are very muscular (having over 60,000 muscles) and are made up of the nose and upper lip
- The tusks are modified incisor teeth and in female Asian elephants they remain small
- The Asian elephants world wide population stands at between 37,000-57,000
- The most obvious difference between African and Asian elephants is the size of the ears. Asian elephants have smaller bodies and much smaller ears. The end of the trunk ends in one finger-like projection instead of two, like the African elephant. They also have 2 domes on their forehead and the end of the trunk as one finger-like projection present as opposed to two in the African elephants can't jump
- Average birth weight of captive Asian Calf is 91 kg
- Baby elephants are usually dependent on mother's milk for at least three years, although they can be weaned at two years of age. The mother's milk is highly nutritious but has low fat content (0.63%-6.2%). By the time a calf is nine months old, 40% of its diet is vegetation. The calf learns how and what to eat by watching the older elephants
- Females give birth within the family group and other females often called 'aunties', but the correct term is allo-mother. These helpers play an important role by playing with and watching out for the new baby, allowing the mother time to rest and eat, which is important for lactation (milk production)
- The calf will also eat small amounts of older animal's dung which helps them acquire necessary microbes to aid digestion
- The elephant calf can use other senses to learn about its environment like, chemical and tactile information received through its trunk
- It takes time, however, to acquire trunk coordination. At first the calf may only be able to wave it around in the air, suck on it or trip over it, however within a week the calf has usually gained enough control to try picking up and carrying small objects and food
- You can adopt the Whipsnade elephant calf from as little as £25
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