San Diego Zoo welcomes baby elephant

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Photo from 'ConspiracyofHappiness' via Flickr

Photo from 'ConspiracyofHappiness' via Flickr

For the San Diego Zoo, Valentine’s Day was not about flowers and heart shaped chocolates—it was a day that new life was added to the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park family.

The baby elephant, called a calf, was born to mother Ndlulamitsi, a name that means “taller than trees” in the SiSwati language.

Ndlulamitsi is among the herd of elephants imported in 2003 from Swaziland in South Africa. The Wild Animal Park rescued mother Ndlulamitsi and six other adult elephants from Swaziland. They would have been culled as a result of Swaziland’s elephant overpopulation and long periods of drought that created an unsuitable habitat for large elephant population. The herd is now made up of 13 elephants.

The newborn calf is estimated to be about three feet tall and 250 to 300 pounds. According to the zoo’s Wild Animal Park, the calf was born around 2 a.m. Sunday, and many visitors camping at the zoo were awakened to loud elephant trumpeting. Festive trumpeting is a celebratory act performed by elephants when a calf is born. The San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park has yet to announce a name for the newborn.

About a year ago, the herd gave birth to a healthy male calf. Since their arrival from Swaziland in 2003, the herd has produced six calves. Five have survived, making the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park one of the most successful elephant breeding facilities in the United States.

We all remember Yun Zi, “Son of Cloud,” San Diego Zoo’s giant panda cub that was born six months ago. Over 6,000 panda fans suggested and voted on names, and 104 days after his birth, the official name was announced in a special ceremony at the Zoo’s Hunte Ampitheater in November. As of Tuesday, Yun Zi is now featured in a new exhibit. Mother Bai Yun and Yun Zi were given a larger and more stimulating exhibit at the Giant Panda Research Station, which will allow guests to visit Yun Zi for a longer period of time. This week Yun Zi will now be visible until 12 p.m., and the time will gradually transition to longer periods when he is ready.

Now we ask, what is in store for San Diego Zoo’s newest member? Will elephant fans also be able to pick a special name for the newborn elephant calf?

Be sure to visit this cute, little calf at the Wild Animal Park. This baby won’t be small for long—African elephants grow to be 7 or 8 tons and about 10.5 feet tall.

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