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UPDATED: New Baby Elephant, a Girl, Arrives at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 21st, 2010 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks

UPDATE – May 24: Disney’s Animal Programs has landed on Luna as the name for the baby elephant born late last Thursday. With Latin roots, Luna means moon in multiple languages. Disney’s animal care team wanted a name that best suited the female calf’s shining personality as the brightest light among the herd.

Weighing 288 pounds at birth, Luna is the fifth elephant born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. She joins the herd of thirteen, which now includes five males and eight females.

Luna’s mother Donna is reportedly doing well after gaining more than 400 pounds during the 22-month gestation. Animal experts describe her as a model mother, taking excellent care of her newborn calf. Mother and child remain backstage while the calf becomes acclimated to other herd mates.

New Baby Elephant Arrives at Disney's Animal Kingdom
I’m thrilled to share with you the fantastic news that we have a new baby elephant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Our 22-year-old elephant Donna gave birth to a 288-pound female calf late last night after a 22-month gestation. Right now, baby and mom are in their backstage home, but in several weeks we expect them to join the rest of the elephant herd on the Kilimanjaro Safaris.

The new baby (no name yet!) is the second calf for Donna, who gave birth to a female calf, Nadirah, in 2005. This birth raises the number of elephants in the Disney’s Animal Kingdom herd to thirteen, including five males and eight females.
New Baby Elephant Arrives at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Elephant births are among the most amazing and complicated processes in the animal kingdom. Our animal care team has worked with Donna attentively throughout the course of her pregnancy. At this point, we’re optimistic for the calf’s likelihood of survival and are thrilled that both Donna and her calf are doing well.

Donna became pregnant through artificial insemination in July 2008 and received extensive pre-natal care throughout her pregnancy. In addition to regular ultrasounds, veterinarians and elephant managers monitored her hormone levels on a daily basis to help them determine when she would give birth. Labor appeared imminent last night and the animal care team stayed with her to provide round-the-clock care until the female calf was born around 11:30 p.m.

This is the fifth elephant born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. In addition to Donna’s first female calf, Nadirah, Tufani, a male, was born in 2003; Kianga, a female, was born in 2004; and Tsavo, the youngest male, joined the herd in 2008. All remain on the savannah at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

I am very proud to say that the Disney’s Animal Programs team has been at the forefront of efforts to better understand and care for endangered elephants. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is part of a breeding program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that is focused on sustaining the elephant population in North America. AZA’s Elephant Species Survival Plan has called for a five-fold increase in African elephant reproduction efforts – using both natural and artificial breeding methods – in order to create a self-sustaining elephant population among North American zoos and wildlife centers.

And our team and the Disney company also support elephant conservation in the wild. For example, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and the Disney Foundation have directed over $1 million to projects in 20 countries to help protect and conserve elephants.

Elephant fun fact: An elephant calf learns how and what to eat by watching the older elephants.

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Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort



Mysti from CA on May 21st, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I can’t wait to see the new baby when I visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom in August! Congrats!!


Shannon from TN on May 21st, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Happy Birthday baby girl! I can’t wait to introduce you to my little girls. They love these photos!


Crystal from VA on May 21st, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Leave it to my 10-yr old to put this in perspective: “WOW, it weighs more than Daddy!”


montana on May 21st, 2010 at 4:39 pm

awwwwww so cute i love her she is adorable i cant wait to go to animal kingdom and see her♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥


Sylvia on May 21st, 2010 at 4:41 pm

ahh….can’t wait to see her. I must be so fulfilling to be an animal handler and have this success! Congrats – Cheers little one!


Melissa from VA on May 21st, 2010 at 4:47 pm

How sweet!! Can’t wait to see her when I bring my daughter in Sept.! She’s beautiful!


Stephanie from TX on May 21st, 2010 at 4:55 pm

So what date was she born on?


Stephanie from TX on May 21st, 2010 at 4:55 pm

—never mind…late last night. :)


Lori on May 21st, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Cant wait to see her :) Wont be there til Christmas though


Kelly from NC on May 21st, 2010 at 5:13 pm

We will be there in August! Hope she is out there then :)


Marjie from WV on May 21st, 2010 at 5:25 pm

This new baby and I share a birthday!! Can’t wait to see her in July!


Cynthia from FL on May 21st, 2010 at 5:30 pm

What a beauty!!! Congratulations to all!


Kumeyi on May 21st, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Congratulations!!! It´s a girl 😀


Andrea from São Paulo on May 21st, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Wait for me, baby!!! I’m coming… xoxoxo


karen on May 21st, 2010 at 10:17 pm

How Cute is she :) can’t wait to see her in person she is Disney Perfect!!


Jennifer on May 21st, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Awww! Can’t wait to see her when I go!


Patricia from TX on May 21st, 2010 at 11:50 pm

“Happy Birthday Baby Girl!” We can’t wait to meet you!


Jessica on May 22nd, 2010 at 6:15 am

OHHHHHHH! She is so cute! I can’t wait to see her in June!! When babies are born at Disney, who names them, the caregiver?


Thomas on May 22nd, 2010 at 7:45 am

Amazing, hope we get to see her in August!


Cheryl on May 22nd, 2010 at 8:41 am

Congrats Disney! This is wonderful news for those of us in Louisville Kentucky who just last week lost our 3 year old African Elephant (Scotty) to an illness! He was more than just an elephant to our town – he was family! Glad to hear about the birth of your new baby girl!


Dina on May 22nd, 2010 at 10:38 am

Adorable!! I hope to come visit her soon :)


Alison on May 22nd, 2010 at 11:50 am

Congrats on the arrival of your baby girl!! I am so excited that we get to see her in a couple of weeks!!


Krista on May 22nd, 2010 at 12:51 pm

So beautiful to see the mamma and the baby, but disappointed that baby was born in captivity and especially by artificial insemination.


Larry on May 22nd, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Congrats to you I hope I see her in a few years


Janet from FL on May 22nd, 2010 at 7:12 pm

This birth is so exciting. You should have a contest to give the baby elephant a name.


Chad on May 23rd, 2010 at 1:05 am

Just had to say that I now have “Baby Elephant Walk” by Mancini going through my head


Alisha from UT on May 23rd, 2010 at 1:27 am

Congratulations to Donna on her baby girl! She is so sweet!


Suzanne from MD on May 23rd, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Congrats to Mommy and the animal care staff! We were lucky enough to take the Wildlife Discovery Excursion at AK last week, and were told of the imminent birth, so we’ve been anxiously watching the blog for this news. Thanks again to Danielle and Jonathan for an amazing experience, and great work with the animals!


Jeni Lynn on May 23rd, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Wow! That has to be one of the most precious things I’ve seen in a while. Congratulations Animal Kingdom! You’ve got a great “new addition” there.


Tina on May 23rd, 2010 at 7:33 pm

I will be there August 5-11th hope to see her!


Lucy on May 24th, 2010 at 6:52 pm

AAwwww, I love it!!! My husband’s last name is Luna. The baby elephant is so cute.


erika on May 24th, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Congratulations Animal Kingdom!!Luna is so cute!I hope see her in my next visit


Stephanie from CA on May 25th, 2010 at 6:55 am

These are such cute pictures of baby Luna! Did you photograph these?


Michelle from NC on May 25th, 2010 at 8:31 pm

She’s beautiful! Luna is the name of our youngest cat. :-)


Maria on June 3rd, 2010 at 10:46 am

Congratulations Donna!! You have a beautiful baby, Luna!! God bless you both.

Maria E Martinez from Miami