03 January 2013

The calf was on its feet within three minutes of being born at 11pm on Monday and was welcomed into the group by mum Sithami and eight other Asian elephants.

The 15-year-old mother delivered the herd’s latest offspring after a 22-month gestation. Sithami is also mum to female Sundara, born in 2004, and male calf Nayan born in 2010.

All images © Press Association

Sundara herself had her first baby on Nov 25 last year.

We won’t know for another 48 hours whether our new arrival is a boy or girl. Sithami has been getting to know the calf, gently touching the young animal with her trunk and keeping a watchful eye on him/her.

Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals, said:

“The arrival of an elephant calf is always a cause for celebration but to have two healthy calves in less than three months is absolutely fantastic. The new baby and mum are doing very well and I am sure our visitors will share in our good news.

“The natural bonding between mum and calf and calf with the rest of the herd is fascinating and a truly wonderful thing to see.

“And we just hope that when people come and set eyes on them, they’re inspired to try and do something to help stop the persecution that these magnificent animals face in the wild.

“In India for example, elephants are all too often injured or even killed in conflicts with humans because they wander into villages and wreck crops and damage property and the villagers retaliate against them with force. However we run a great conservation programme over there, which works hard to put an end to this, helping both man and beast live harmoniously.

“In fact, not a single elephant has been killed in the villages where we work for over a year. When people come and see our new baby, sometimes unbeknown to them, they’re helping fund this work in the wild. It’s vitally important.”

In December we invited Earth Unplugged to meet the herd and you can see below the first of two behind the scenes videos about the birth.

 

Chester Zoo is part of a breeding program coordinated by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) that is focused on sustaining the elephant population in Europe.

The elephant house will be open as normal today.