Elephant keepers at the San Diego Zoo got a big surprise when they came in to work Sept. 27 to find that Umngani (pronounced OOM-gah-nee), a 28-year-old elephant, had given birth to a healthy, 281-pound female calf—the biggest calf ever to be born at the zoo. While zoo keepers were expecting the birth, it came a little earlier than they had expected.
The calf, yet to be named, began nursing shortly after it was born.
By late morning, with the baby appearing healthy and well bonded to her mother, staff offered the pair the opportunity to move into a larger area of the habitat with Umngani’s other three offspring. The new calf will be introduced to the remainder of the herd within the next day or so-including another calf.
The Safari Park is now home to 14 elephants-four adults and 10 youngsters. The adults were rescued in 2003 from the Kingdom of Swaziland, where they had faced being culled. A lack of space and long periods of drought had created unsuitable habitat for a large elephant population in the small southern African country.
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