New baby elephant born at Dublin Zoo

Monday 18 February 2008 19.44
Dublin Zoo - Mother and baby doing well
Dublin Zoo - Mother and baby doing well

A male elephant has been born at Dublin Zoo - the second elephant to be born at the zoo in the past year.

The calf, who has not yet been named, was born to mother Indian elephant mother Yasmin at 5.27am in the zoo's elephant enclosure.

The birth was unassisted but was observed by zoo staff through several infrared cameras.

Mother and baby are both doing well.

The other four elephants at the zoo, all female, are smelling and touching the new arrival.

Last May, a female elephant, Asha, was born.

A competition will now be held to name the new arrival. The name will have to be Indian, in reference to the fact that he's an Indian elephant.

Leo Oosterweghel, director of Dublin Zoo, said the birth was a textbook delivery. Once Yasmin's water broke, it was about 30 minutes until the baby was born. He came out in 'one big, smooth movement'. The calf was up and walking within about 30 minutes.

At a very rough guess, the new calf weighs about 100kgs. The female elephant Asha who was born last May already weighs about 500kgs, while the female adults weigh about 3,500 to 4,500kgs.

The entire gestation period lasted 22 months. The calf was born about one or two weeks earlier than expected, but could not be described as premature.

The three adult elephants in the herd were imported from Rotterdam in October 2006. Two of them were already pregnant. Before that, the zoo did not have any elephants at all for a number of years.

The zoo is now looking for an adult bull elephant who can mate with the ladies when they are ready to conceive again in a few years.

Watch the baby elephant's first steps here