Baby Elephant Born at Safari Park

Umngani—an elephant from Swaziland—welcomes her third calf.

Umngani (oom-gah-nee) is a mom again at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The African elephant gave birth to a male calf at 5:45 a.m. on Monday, making her the first elephant in this herd to give birth to three calves, according to a news release from the park.

Umngani, her 5-year-old calf, Khosi (koh-see), and her 2-year-old, Ingadze (in-Gahd-zee), could be seen by Safari Park visitors watching over the newest member of the family, who is still unnamed.

Khosi, whose nickname is the "babysitter," was living up to her reputation. She kept a watchful eye on the calf, making sure he didn't stray far from his mother and also placing her body between the newborn calf and the rest of the curious elephant herd. 

The Safari Park is now home to 18 elephants—8 adults and 10 youngsters. The adults were rescued in 2003 from the Kingdom of Swaziland, where they faced being culled. A lack of space and long periods of drought created unsuitable habitat for a large elephant population in the small southern African country, according to the Safari Park news release. Swaziland's big game parks officials felt they had two options: kill this group of elephants or export them to a zoo willing to care for the pachyderms. 

At the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park, elephant studies are under way on nutrition, daily walking distance, growth and development and bioacoustic communication. In Africa, a San Diego Zoo Global scientist is studying human-elephant conflicts as well as habitat range and use. In 2004, the non-profit organization committed to contributing $30,000 yearly to Swaziland's big game parks though 2014 to fund programs like anti-poaching patrols, improved infrastructure and the purchase of additional acreage for the parks. In addition, San Diego Zoo Global supports other elephant conservation projects through donations to the International Elephant Foundation, an organization that funds elephant conservation projects around the world, according to the news relase.

The average gestation period for African elephants is 22 months. A newborn calf averages 200 to 300 pounds. Calves can be weaned at 2 to 3 years old.    
Umngani and her three calves will continue to bond in a separate yard from the rest of the herd while the newborn gets steady on his feet, learns to follow his mother closely and gets at least a full day of nursing to make him strong, the news release stated.
The family can be seen daily at the elephant habitat or on the Safari Parks online webcam, Elephant Cam.

Kids under 11 get in free every day in October.

The 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo Safari Park (previously referred to as Wild Animal Park) is operated by the non-profit San Diego Zoo and includes a 900-acre native species reserve. The organization focuses on conservation and research work around the globe, educates millions of individuals a year about wildlife and maintains accredited horticultural, animal, library and photo collections. The zoo also manages the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. 

The conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.

Update Tuesday from the Safari Park: "By the weekend he should be with the rest of the herd and in the main yard so people will get a good view of him and the rest of the little ones out there. There were four elephants born last year so there are lots of kids to watch. No name yet. It usually takes a little while. We wait until we know if it's a male or female. Now that we know, we'll get to work finding a fitting name."

Pamela Ramos Langley September 28, 2011 at 04:59 PM
And finally, your assumptions about what I know and what I've read is without merit. Two blog posts and you know everything about my scope of knowledge? I've listened to numerous animal researchers, I've seen Jane Goodall live, I'm well-informed. And I support what the Safari Park is doing. That's MY perspective.
Rusty Cox September 28, 2011 at 05:54 PM
And by the way I complimented SD for their elephant program- I'm sure that it's far better than the days of M'dundamela.... But if you want to soap box on someone's legitimate concern, then you should have a better understanding of what you are talking about. I think that it's very telling that you didn't contradict the facts that i presented.... Are we learning Pam?
Willabelle September 28, 2011 at 11:00 PM
"A focus for your emotion should be at the institutions and humans that make it dangerous for many species to remain in Africa." I couldn't agree more ..... that should be everyone's focus, preserving wildlife in its natural habitat - so why do you defend and support its antithesis - institutions of captivity that exploit animals for profit under the guise of conservation ?? Something tells me that if these elephants could talk, the last thing they would say is that they're lucky. Don't get the dog/bird analogy ... zoo elephants are just as restricted in their movement by humans. Chained and caged too - how is that better ?? Ask the chained dog and the chained elephant how different it is. Weird, ignorant logic. Never questioned the intelligence, idealism, or compassion of the keepers - only the justification that zoos are necessary to preserve wildlife. Zoos' contributions to in situ conservation is usually less than 1% of budget - gotta fund those gift shops, kiddie rides, and CEO salaries first.
Pamela Ramos Langley September 28, 2011 at 11:16 PM
Willabelle, I'm really done with this conversation, but since you asked a few questions, I'll answer and then people can make up their own minds. What makes you say the Safari Park (and that's what I'm speaking to, not ZOOS) chains their elephants? I have been going there for over 30 years. I have NEVER seen an animal chained. They have a beautiful exhibit, which they can walk from one end to another, with trees, logs, toys, feeding platforms and tools, and a huge swimming pond. There is a smaller area for mom's with newborns, and even that area is enriched. I have watched the keepers train the elephants to behaviors that help them examine them, and when some elephants were recently returned to the LA Zoo after housing them during the reno there, they put the moving crates for weeks in the exhibit for the elephants to explore and they allowed the elephants to determine their shipping date. I'm not going to elaborate on my reference to dogs being chained and birds being caged, I made a point about where you are directing your assumptions and accusations. Since the elephants ARE NOT chained, it would be your logic that is "weird" and "ignorant." I'm very confident of my education and logic, and I'll let any critical readers of this thread determine who makes more sense. You called the keepers who I referred to in my original post "zoo robots," so if that's not questioning their intelligence, what is? Fund gift shops? Have you even looked at the form 990 for the Safari Park?
clm1950 September 29, 2011 at 01:29 AM
In checking Guidestar the Form 990 for 2009 is posted. Obviously, I didn't spend a lot of time digging, but from what I glanced over out of 173 million budget, less than 1% went toward "conservation." Mostly for conservation research in Africa & Asia. Most of the money would be for expenses and donations to organizations like Save The elephants. No money for anti de-snaring & anti-poaching patrols. No money for assistance in protecting habitats and elephant corridors.


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