From learning to walk, taking a bath, or feeding—Night Safari’s largest baby of the year has won over the Internet with her cute antics and now, barely two months old and having gained 40 per cent in body weight, the elephant calf is ready to join the adults in Night Safari’s elephant exhibit and greet her fans.
The adorable baby is born to Chawang, Night Safari’s famed four-ton male Asian elephant and Sri Nandong. Chawang, the park’s biggest animal, 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 12 May 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, up from an initial 149kg 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.
Night Safari’s littlest elephant officially, and excitedly, trotted into the Asian elephant exhibit today. Guests will now be able to catch the offspring of 39-year-old Chawang and 30-year-old Sri Nandong when they embark on Night Safari’s tram experience.
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 little longer to allow her personality to fully develop before choosing a suitable name reflecting her character in the coming months.
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.”
Asian elephants are listed as endangered on the IUCN* Red List of Threatened Species, more so than their African counterparts. Threats include habitat loss and human-elephant conflicts. The native homes of the Asian elephants are often being logged and cleared for urban and agricultural development.
There are only an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 Asian elephants left in the wild today. To support the conservation of this majestic species, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) plays an active role on the steering committee of the ASEAN Captive Elephant Working Group, and was instrumental in setting up the Asian Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus Taskforce. In addition, WRS funds field projects for Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME) in Malaysia and Elefant Asia in Laos.
*IUCN: International Union for the Conservation of Nature