Pairi Daiza is thrilled to announce the birth of a male Asian elephant at 2.26 am on 19 September 2017.
Following a 22-month gestation, almost 10 hours of labour and a sleepless night next to the herd for keepers in the Jardin des Mondes, the family of Asian elephants and Pairi Daiza staff watched as the baby was born. He is the first male offspring of Khaing Hnin Hnin and Po Chin.
Mum and calf are both doing well (and so is Dad ;-)).
An emotional birth
Last summer, staff at Pairi Daiza were getting ready to welcome another baby elephant. However, shortly after the birth they became concerned: the calf, which had been born to one of the other female elephants, May, was suffering from respiratory failure. Tragically, despite the efforts of the keepers and vets, the newborn could not be saved. It was a tough time for the staff at Pairi Daiza, who had therefore pinned their hopes on Khaing Hnin Hnin delivering a healthy calf.
Khaing Hnin Hnin started having contractions at around 4 pm on Monday 18 September. She was left in peace and quiet with the rest of her family, while the keepers and the vet waited in anxious anticipation in the Elephant Conservation Centre.
“The first few minutes after the birth are crucial for the newborn’s survival. When a calf is born in the wild, the other females in the family rush to help the mother and stimulate the newborn so that he stands up. This is exactly what happened here. Khaing Hnin Hnin is an experienced mum and the family has already seen several calves being born. Even so, we were counting the seconds. It was a huge relief when the calf stood up after just a few minutes, surrounded by his mother, sisters and nieces. Not only is this wonderful news for the elephant breeding programme, but it was an emotional experience for the whole team. It was a textbook birth.” – Dr Tim Bouts, vet at Pairi Daiza.
It's a boy!
Khaing Hnin Hnin (who turned 35 on 13 September), matriarch and mother of six, is now head of a family of seven elephants. Four of her offspring still live at Pairi Daiza, although the latest arrival is the first male in the family.
Khain Hnin Hnin has already given birth to Farina (2003), Soraya (2010) and Malay (2013). They are all still part of the family at Pairi Daiza. She is also grandmother to Amithi (2013) and Nang Faa (the first female calf born at Pairi Daiza in 2015).
The baby elephant born today takes on the role of son, brother and uncle within the family of Asian elephants in the Jardin des Mondes.
The adventures of this little chap, surrounded by females, promise to be more than interesting!
The Asian elephant: an endangered species
The Asian elephant is on the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List. The population is thought to have declined by as much as 50% in three generations and is currently estimated at just 40,000 to 50,000 individuals. The decline of the species is due to the disappearance of its natural habitat and poaching. Pairi Daiza and its elephants are part of a European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) coordinated by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).
The largest group of elephants in Europe – and still growing!
For several years, Pairi Daiza and the Pairi Daiza Foundation have taken in elephants from circuses and other zoos. Together our 18 elephants (15 Asian elephants and 3 African elephants) form the largest group in Europe. They have access to an area of more than 7 hectares (savannah, reserve, conservation centre and temple) within the Jardin des Mondes.