It gets its head down for a long gestation, 21 months, after which it pushes out a baby weighing a whopping 336 pounds. Whipsnade zoo’s first ever Asian baby elephant was born on March 16 and made its first bow on Tuesday. As usual, the baby arrived between the mother’s legs, head first. “So its thud, if you want, is only two to three feet,” says Wayne Boardman, head of veterinary services.
“It’s covered in amniotic fluid and that hits the ground with a bit of fluid cushioning, in a way, and then the water bursts everywhere. Within a couple of hours it should be standing up and starting to suckle the mother. She will smell it and blow on it. Lots of them will kick it. It’s a gentle control kick to move it out of the sac, so it won’t be suffocated by this quite thick membrane.”
The baby was a heavy responsibility. Its tiny trunk might have got in the way at the moment of birth. The pregnancy was followed by ultrasound scan. “At about four months you can pick out the trunk on ultrasound,” Boardman says.
The as-yet-unnamed baby started off about as big as a dot. “The same size as any mammal really. And then it was 24 stone or 149 kilos by the time it popped out.”… we’ve got a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever, but far fewer are paying for it. Advertising revenues across the media are falling fast.
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