Chester Zoo’s Hi Way family has a new member. This young elephant calf was born at 1.38pm on August 20th to mum, Thi Hi Way. Within three minutes she got to her feet and was welcomed by four members of her family.
Team Member of elephants at Chester Zoo, Andy Mckenzie said, “We are able to watch the elephants remotely from home on our CCTV cameras so we can track the progress of the labour without disturbing the herd. The birth of a new elephant is a real family occasion and, as the labour progresses, all of the family unit really come together. They all knew that something was going to happen, especially the older elephants that have seen it all before.”
“As soon as the calf was born onto the soft sand, the family started to lean down to have a look and a sniff and also gave her a gentle kick to stimulate her. Not long after, she was up and standing on her feet.”
“A birth in the group is a really positive experience for the animals and they get excited about the process. A lot of elephant behavior is learnt and so it was great to see the younger individuals being around the birth and learning from the older cows in the family, particularly two-year-old Bala Hi Way who has never been around a birth before,” added Mckenzie.
Thi Hi Way, the calf’s mother has given birth to a number of calves at the zoo in the past. Remaining in the herd at Chester Zoo is her offspring Sithami, grandchildren, Sundara and Bala along with great-grandchild Hari.
Mckenzie added that “birth went very smoothly indeed” and that “Thi’s new calf is a great addition to the Hi Way family.”
Watch below the amazing moment that the calf enters the world.
Asian elephants are an endangered species according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Curator of mammals at Chester Zoo, Tim Rowlands explained that, “African elephants are hunted for their ivory but Asian elephants, which don’t have such large tusks, are persecuted in other ways. For example, in India, elephants are injured or even killed in conflicts with humans when they walk into villages and damage crops and property, leading to retaliation in force by villagers.”
“It’s fantastic to be able to celebrate another elephant birth at the zoo and we hope it inspires people to sit up and take notice of the issues these magnificent animals face in the wild,” he added.
Chester Zoo works with a project in Assam, India which helps to forge a future for elephants alongside people. 12 staff went to visit the project in February and help out.
The calf has been named Nandita after the leader of this conservation project.
Rowlands finished by explaining that, “Chester Zoo runs a fantastic conservation program in Assam in northern India, which works hard to put an end to this, helping both villagers and wild elephants to live together harmoniously. When people visit and come and see our new calf they may not realize it, but they’re actually helping fund this work in the wild.”
Photo Credit: Chester Zoo