Elephant calf born at San Diego Zoo

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Swazi the elephant

Swazi the elephant (Photo credit: San Diego Zoo Safari Park)

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The African elephant herd at San Diego Zoo Safari Park expanded today with the birth of a female calf. The 205-pound offspring born to mother Swazi at 3:39 a.m. was up and walking within minutes, and “both are doing well,” according to a San Diego Zoo Safari Park statement.

Within hours, the new calf made its public debut on the park’s live elephant cam, accessible at sdzsafaripark.org.

Swazi, which means “the fearful leader,” is head of the Safari Park’s African elephant herd consisting of a dozen pachyderms, eight of which were born at the North County attraction formerly known as the Wild Animal Park.

Swazi is believed to be around 21 years old and is one of four herd members born in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

The yet-to-be-named newborn calf is her second offspring. Her first, Macembe — pronounced ma-calm-bay — was born on April 12, 2010, and remains a part of the Safari Park herd.

While “Mac” was present for his sister’s birth, he was then separated from her and their mother to allow them to bond and nurse. Mac and two other young elephants in the herd stood close in an adjacent yard and reached out with their trunks to smell and touch the newborn, according to park officials.

The gestation period for an elephant is about 22 months.

Animal keepers said Swazi’s water broke early Sunday morning, so they instituted a 24-hour watch, knowing from previous experience that labor doesn’t immediately follow. That was the case again this time, with labor beginning around 3 this morning.

The Safari Park is now home to 13 elephants — four adults and nine youngsters.

Swazi and other adults were in the Kingdom of Swaziland — a small country mostly surrounded by South Africa —  in 2003 when they were rescued by the San Diego Zoo before they were culled.

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