Night Safari’s largest baby of the year, an Asian Elephant calf, is two months old. The female calf is ready to greet her fans and join the adults in Night Safari’s elephant exhibit.
The adorable baby was born to Chawang, Night Safari’s famed four-ton male Asian Elephant, and mom, Sri Nandong.
Chawang is the Singapore park’s biggest animal and has always been regarded as ‘King of Night Safari’. His princess joins five other elephants in the world’s first nocturnal wildlife park. Aside from her parents, the calf’s brother, 15-year old Sang Wira, also resides at the park.
Inquisitive and intelligent, the calf surprised keepers on May 12 this year, when she bounded into the world earlier than expected. Mom had only been pregnant for 19 months, when usual gestation is closer to 22 months.
True to her eager attitude to life, the little one has grown by leaps and bounds. For a start, her weight has increased to 210kg (463 lbs.), up from an initial 149kg (328) at birth. Ever the curious one, she is an avid fan of all things wet, and will never pass up a chance to slosh about in her play pool, following that with a roll in the sand whenever possible.
She is starting to relish in her independence and is especially close to dedicated caretaker ‘Auntie Tun’, whom she regards as a larger than life playmate. Elephants live in herds, which are made up primarily of related females, who will act as surrogate mothers to juveniles in the group. Although unrelated, Tun continues to play this role with much gusto, and is always on hand to watch over the little one.
Yet to be named, the two-month old calf has already received quite the following on social media, having starred in two videos showing her indulging in all things elephant: splashing around in her signature rainbow tub, going for walks, and experimenting on adult food. Her caregivers are waiting a few more months, to allow her personality to fully develop, before choosing a suitable name reflecting her character.
Dr. Cheng Wen-Haur, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Life Sciences Officer said, “The birth of this female calf is particularly significant as elephants are very slow breeders, and she will contribute towards achieving a sustainable population under human care. She will also play a leading role as an ambassador to help raise awareness on the plight of her threatened relatives in the wild.”
The Asian or Asiatic Elephant (Elephas maximus) is the only living species of the genus Elephas and is native to Southeast Asia from India in the west to Borneo in the east. Three subspecies are recognized: E. m. maximus from Sri Lanka, the E. m. indicus from mainland Asia, and E. m. sumatranus from the island of Sumatra. Asian Elephants are the largest living land animals in Asia.
Since 1986, E. maximus has been listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, as the population has declined by at least 50% over the last three generations (estimated to be 60–75 years). Asian Elephants are primarily threatened by degradation, fragmentation and loss of habitat, and poaching.