Last month, AnimalPlex reported on the transport of a number of elephants that were relocated from Swaziland to various zoos around the country. The transport of these animals brought cheers and criticisms alike from followers of the story on social media. Some saw the transport of these elephants as a tragedy- animals born in the wild, and transported across the world, to live the remainder of their lives in captivity. Others cheered the protective measures awarded to these animals, as the wildlife preserve in which they lived was facing desolate conditions after a long period of drought.
The relocated animals arrived in the states in less than healthy conditions, some facing severe malnutrition from the lack of access to food in their home country. Those who cheered this action believed that the elephants may have otherwise perished in their native lands, as there was nothing more that could be done.
Regardless of perception and opinion, the story continues. One of the elephants relocated, called Mlilo, arrived at the Dallas Zoo (Dallas, Texas) during her pregnancy. Mlilo has since successfully given birth to a male calf, a 175 pound bundle of joy, and makes history as the first birth of an African eelephant in captivity in the United States in almost 2 years.
According to the Dallas Zoo’s Facebook page, momma and baby are both doing well, and remain off exhibit so they have the opportunity to bond and so baby continues to grow and adjust. Dallas Zoo spokesmen are calling this a “ray of hope” for the animals, a rescue that has improved the animals chances at living a healthy and nourished life.
The baby was born, weighing 175 pounds which is in the average but low end of the healthy 150-300 pound range. According to experts from the zoo, the pregnancy of Mlilo wasn’t even known at the time of the transport, as the males (in that location) are usually sterilized and pregnancy tests were inconclusive. However, Mlilo showed signs of pregnancy, so she was closely monitored by zoo staff and cared for after her arrival. Since the arrival of Mlilo, experts have tended to her nutrition (as well as the other incoming malnourished elephants) and she continued to gain weight and deliver a healthy baby. The pair will remain off exhibit for an undetermined amount of time as they continue to bond and grow.
You can learn more about Mlilo and her baby boy in the question and answer section from the Dallas Zoo website (here).
There are no indications that any of the other transported elephants are currently pregnant, although with a twenty two month gestation period, it is too early to report with absolute confirmation.
Social media is still abuzz with those opposed to the elephant relocation, and the fact that a baby elephant conceived in the wild will now live its whole life in captivity. But those in favor of the move say the alternative was worse. The baby may have never survived in its homeland due to the extreme droughts. Overall, the response has been positive and supportive for the zoos (all AZA certified, with special accommodations and experts to address the needs of the large mammal) and their rescue of the elephants from Africa.
Photo credit: Dallas Zoo, http://zoohoo.dallaszoo.com/2016/05/24/qa-dallas-zoo-welcomes-precious-elephant-calf/