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."