San Diego Zoo takes votes to name baby elephant

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It’s gone from more than 1,000 names to just three.

Yep, San Diegans have provided their top suggestions in a baby naming contest for one of the newest baby elephants also known as a calf, born on May 12 at San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park:

  1. Emanti, which means “water’” in SiSwati, the language of Swaziland;
  2. Usutu, which is a large river in Swaziland; and
  3. Mnakabo, which means “their brother.’”

Baby names poured in at a fever pitch and the Park is hoping you will once again add your two cents worth and vote for your favorite of these three for the little – er, big baby elephant starting Aug. 16 at

The winning name will be announced Aug. 26 at the Park’s elephant exhibit.  This particular baby is one of eight that was born at the Wild Animal Park over the last 6 years to a herd of elephants rescued from Swaziland. The eight adult elephants made their home in the Wild Animal Park in 2003 from the African country, where they were to be removed because of overpopulation.

While a baby elephant is referred to as a calf, an entire group of elephants is known as a herd. The female (cow) elephant usually gives birth to a single calf after a gestation of about 650 days. The calf is not fully mobile at birth, making it very vulnerable to predators such as lions and hyenas. It is the role of the females in the herd to help protect the young calves. The young males known as bulls remain within the herd until they are about 12 years old, then they are driven out. They usually join groups of other males. The young cows remain with the herd until they form their own groups.

There are two known living elephant species today: African and Asian, in addition to sub-species for each type. For the African elephant there are two sub-species: the Bush or Savannah and the Forest elephant. The Asian elephant has four sub-species:  Indian elephant, Sri Lankan elephant, Sumatran elephant and the Borneo (or Pygmy) elephant.

Photos courtesy of cyrusbulsara and tiare scott via Flickr.

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