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Third elephant baby has arrived at Planckendael

21:42 12/04/2018

From Flanders Today: The third baby expected by the Asian elephant family at Planckendael animal park in Mechelen has been born. After 641 days of pregnancy, 36-year-old Phyo Phyo became a mother once again with the birth of a baby boy.

Planckendael said the delivery went smoothly, without any complications. This is Phyo Phyo's sixth baby. She is also the mother of Planckendael elephants Kai-Mook, May Tagu and three-year-old Qiyo.

As is the ritual with Asian elephants, all the elephants in the herd – now 10 strong – gathered around the calf immediately, sniffing him. Within 15 minutes, he was on his feet, and the other two baby elephants curiously investigated their new uncle with their trunks.

Coincidentally, the new baby (pictured, far right) was born on 11 April, May Tagu’s birthday. May Tagu and Kai-Mook have also both given birth recently, the former last December and the latter in January.

While those babies – girls Tun Kai and Suki – can be seen by the public, the new baby boy will only make short appearances during the day, weather permitting, until he is a bit bigger. A name has not yet been chosen for the new calf.

The father of all three babies is Chang. The bull is now in Copenhagen as a part of a breeding programme to help keep Asian elephants off the endangered species list. Meanwhile, the animal park recently welcomed Kanvar, expected to act as father to future generations of Asian elephants at Planckendael.

The multiple births have been celebrated by zoos and animal parks across the world as the Asian elephant population has decreased by some 50% over the last century. Only 40,000 to 50,000 still roam across India, China, Thailand and other neighbouring countries.

Planckendael is part of the Brahmagiri-Tirunelli Elephant Corridor. The project sees wildlife agents protecting elephants that travel through southern India, an area becoming ever more inhabited by people.

Written by Molly Dove