Jumbo jubilations for Whipsnade’s first elephant calf
Tuesday 5 April 2005
Aneena, the first ever Asian elephant to be born at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park is having her first birthday party, so there will much celebration down at the elephant house this week
Aneena, the first ever Asian elephant to be born at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park is having her first birthday party, so there will much celebration down at the elephant house this week.
Full of fun and desperate to play, just like any other one year old, Aneena's favourite toy is a big, round Pilates ball that belongs to one of her keepers. She regularly chases and kicks it around her home! Her keeper, Lee Sambrook, now wants his ball back and so we’ve decided to buy her two Pilates balls of her own!
Photographers arrived on Tuesday 5 April to see Aneena receive the special cake that her keepers had made for her, using her favourite ingredients: bread, bananas and oats. We’re all sure she had a birthday party no elephant could ever forget.
Aneena was joined by a half brother, Euan, last September so we now have a total of eight elephants in the herd, which is a trumpeting success for Whipsnade. Euan helped Aneena celebrate her first birthday along with the rest of the herd on Tuesday.
Facts about Aneea
- Aneena still drinks up to 12 litres of milk per day
- At birth (16 March 2004), she weighed 149 kg. Her current weight is 425kg
- The elephant paddock at Whipsnade covers an area of about nine 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.
Facts about elephants
- Whipsnade has eight elephants, two males and six females
- 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 and are called tushes
- 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 up to 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 per cent). By the time a calf is nine months old, 40 per cent 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'. 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.