Pachyderm Pride and Joy: Mother and two-week-old elephant calf are now on exhibit at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.
TAMPA – Lowry Park Zoo’s biggest bundle of joy – a two-week-old African elephant calf – has met the family and is learning to navigate the outdoor savannah with her mother, Mbali, and two aunts (other mature females in the herd).
The yet unnamed female calf can be seen following her mother, exploring, learning to use her ears and trunk, nursing and napping. Hours on exhibit will be limited to mornings for the near term, weather permitting.
Births in the managed population of African elephants among 40 institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) are few, with just three calves born in 2012. The female born Dec. 23, 2012 is only the second in the Zoo’s history, and the first in Tampa from a herd of 11 elephants rescued from culling in Swaziland, Africa, and brought to the U.S. nearly a decade ago. The 2-week-old calf is significant to the population because she introduces new DNA into the gene pool of elephants managed in North America.
Although the elephant population in some areas of Africa is abundant, populations are under threat from human-elephant conflict, poaching, disease and loss of habitat. In addition to conservation efforts with this species here at home, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has supported acquiring additional land, anti-poaching programs and public education in Swaziland. Results to date include expansion of the Mkhaya Game Reserve by 10 percent, to promote survival of thousands of animals protected there.
The calf has not yet been named, but the Zoo has extended an invitation to the Reilly family in Swaziland, to select an appropriate name, in honor of their leadership in establishing three national parks for wildlife conservation in that country. The Zoo’s herd lives together in a natural social structure, with mother and aunts sharing the care of the calf.
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is operated by the Lowry Park Zoological Society, an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to excellence in education, conservation and research. Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa, one mile west of I-275 (exit 48) and is open seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with extended hours on select nights during special events. Parking is free.