Pictures: zoo welcomes arrival of rare baby elephant

This Is Local London: Pictures: zoo welcomes arrival of baby elephant Pictures: zoo welcomes arrival of baby elephant

Zookeepers are celebrating the healthy birth of a rare Asian elephant after a very special delivery last week.

The female calf, who is still to be named, celebrates her one-week birthday today as staff and visitors at Twycross Zoo in the Midlands enjoy the buzz surrounding her arrival.

Mother Noorjahan gave birth last Tuesday following an eye-watering 22 month pregnancy and both mother and daughter are doing well.

Dr Charlotte Macdonald, head of life sciences at Twycross Zoo, said: "The calf was born at around 2.30am on March 4 and was up on her feet after a matter of minutes.

"She's bonded very well with mum, who is doing an exceptional job of taking care of her. The whole herd have really bonded over it so she now has not just a mum but three aunties as well."

Dr Macdonald revealed the zoo is likely to run a competition inviting members of the public to suggest names for the little one.

Eighteen-year-old Noorjahan will certainly have enough on her plate, with the newborn suckling around 11 litres of milk every day for the next year.

Sarah Chapman, head of veterinary services, said: "We have a natural all female family herd at Twycross and so Noorjahan was artificially inseminated.

"This birth was another herd birth at Twycross Zoo with the mother having access to different substrates and lots of space, with the rest of the herd close at hand for support.

"The herd's behaviour was monitored by the vet and animal teams via CCTV and it was good to see that all members of the herd were very excited by the new arrival and very interested in the infant.

"The birth was very quick which is great for both Noorjahan and the calf.

"The calf was able to stand with the help of her mother and that fact that she was on a deep bed of sand helped her soft feet to grip for her to take her first steps.

"All the females continue to take a huge interest in the calf and are very protective of her. This is perfectly natural, with aunties playing a very important 'babysitting' role in the natural herd structure."

The baby is unsurprisingly the star attraction at the zoo already but her birth is especially rewarding for the staff, due to the endangered nature of the Asian elephant species.

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