The healthy, female calf, arrived to 15-year-old mum Sundara Hi Way following a 22-month gestation, with the birth caught on our CCTV cameras.
Our elephant experts – who monitored the birth remotely – say both mum and calf are doing “ever so well.”
The new calf was welcomed by the rest of the family herd, including one-year-old half-brother Anjan, who experienced a birth for the first time, and three-year-old sister, Indali.
Katie Morrison, our Assistant team Manager of Elephants, described the “wonderful” birth as a “great learning experience for the family herd.”
A birth is a wonderful, positive social event for the elephants and is always a great learning experience for the family herd, particularly the younger members.
Katie Morrison, Assistant team Manager of Elephants
“The excitement levels really build when a calf is due and, as soon as Sundara went into labour, it was obvious to the other herd members that something special was about to take place.”
“Sundara delivered her calf onto deep, soft sand following a labour lasting around 20 minutes, with the other elephants gathered around her. She then immediately began to stimulate her calf with a number of gentle kicks to encourage her up off the ground as quickly as possible, and she was on her feet and suckling within minutes, which was wonderful to see. So far both mum and calf are doing ever so well indeed.”
Asian elephants are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species is highly threatened in the wild by habitat loss, poaching, human-wildlife conflict and a deadly herpes virus called Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV), which has so far been found present in nine countries across its range.
Conservationists from the zoo have, for many years, been working to combat these threats, utilising the skills and knowledge developed working with the family herd in Chester.
“Two particular areas that are a main focus for us include human-wildlife conflict in Assam, India where our conservationists have worked for more than 14 years to prevent deaths of elephants and people living alongside them by finding harmonious solutions that allow them to co-exist side by side.”
“Meanwhile, we’re leading the global effort in the search for a viable vaccine that can help rid elephants of the terrible disease, EEHV. Scientists, researchers and conservationists have made huge progress and are hopeful that Asian elephants will soon have one less threat pushing them towards extinction.”
The zoo is part of a breeding programme coordinated by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) that is focused on sustaining the elephant population in Europe.
Our elephant house is open as normal.