On November 25, at 1.30 a.m., young female Asian elephant “Sundara” (8yrs) gave birth to her 1st offspring at Chester zoo, UK. The uncomplicated birth occurred in the presence of the whole elephant herd. “Sundara´s” calf of still unknown sex was sired by 18yrs “Upali”, a male who has recently been transferred to Dublin zoo, IRL.
This birth should be noted as a significant event: As it occurred, Chester zoo claimed to become the 1st zoo in the western world keeping an elephant family of four generations: Matriarch “Thi Ha Way” (31yrs.) with her daughters “Sithami” and “Jamila”, aged 15 and 1, “”Sithami´s” offspring “Sundara” (8yrs.) and “Nayan”, aged 2 – and now including “Sundara´s” offspring as well. Additional members of Chester´s herd of nine are females “Maya” and “Jangolie”, both aged 44, and 11 year old bull elephant “Aung Bo”, who was born at Emmen zoo, NL and is the new breeding bull-to-be at Chester zoo.
Chester zoo´s elephant management programme, which enabled this development, should be a leading example for other, especially German zoos, which unscrupulously tear young zoo-born females apart from their mothers and families. This goes against the advice of the EAZA Taxon Advisory Group and – of course – against striking evidence of up to date research in the wild.
Congratulations, Chester zoo!