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Baby Elephant Receives Warm Welcome at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on August 25th, 2011 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks

Baby Elephant Receives Warm Welcome at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

We’re proud to report that the elephant herd at Disney’s Animal Kingdom got just a little larger with the birth yesterday (August 24) of our newest calf. Weighing 311 pounds, the male African elephant (no name yet!) was welcomed into the group by his mother Vasha, 10 herd members and our animal care professionals assisting with the birth.

This latest addition is the second calf for 25-year-old Vasha, who gave birth to a female calf, Kianga, in 2004. The natural bonding between mother and calf is fascinating to watch (wish I could spend the whole day watching our elephants!). The team is encouraged by the early interaction between mother and calf and will continue to monitor them closely for the next several weeks. These great photos of mom, big sister, and the new calf were taken by Disney photographer Gene Duncan.
Baby Elephant Receives Warm Welcome at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The next critical milestone is for the calf to continue the bonding process with his mother who will teach him important lessons and protect him as he gradually acclimates to the rest of the savannah herd over the next several weeks.

Vasha became pregnant through artificial insemination in October 2009 and received extensive pre-natal care throughout pregnancy. Since early August, our animal care team has provided round-the-clock monitoring, regular ultrasounds and daily hormone monitoring to more accurately predict the beginning of labor. In the past few years, Disney’s animal care teams have been able to narrow the birth window to within four days, which enables them to better prepare for the delivery.

This is the sixth elephant born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Others include:

  • Tufani, a male, born in 2003;
  • Kianga, a female, born in 2004;
  • Nadirah a female, born in 2005;
  • Tsavo, a male, born in 2008;
  • Luna, a female born 2010.

All six remain at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Of the many animal care and conservation efforts undertaken by the Animals, Science and Environment team, there’s none that we’re more proud of than the team’s work on behalf of elephants. These efforts not only benefit elephants in the wild and in zoological facilities, they also benefit people in communities in Africa – and connect the millions of Guests who visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom with one of the most amazing creatures in the animal world. After all, who wouldn’t be inspired by seeing a herd of elephants (Disney’s Animal Kingdom has one of the largest African elephant herds in North America), including youngsters, in such a beautiful setting.

Disney 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 (AZA) 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. 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 in the wild.

For more on the elephants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, see the posts below:

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



Elizabeth from FL on August 25th, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Oh my gosh….that last picture is TOOOOO CUTE! Welcome to Florida little guy!


Katherine on August 25th, 2011 at 5:49 pm

He is too cute!!! Welcome to Animal Kingdom little one!


Alisha from UT on August 25th, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Aw, he is so sweet! I love elephants.


Patrick on August 25th, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Congratulations to Vasha and the cast of Disney’s Animal Kingdom! I cant’ wait to see the little one frolicking around the Savannah.


Scott from NY on August 26th, 2011 at 10:58 am

I humbly suggest the name ‘Emil Bleehall.’ Kungaloosh!


Friend on August 26th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

oh my goodness what a beatiful little girl. my heart dances with delight when i read storys like this!! hope we get to see her in october 2011.


Friend on August 26th, 2011 at 2:42 pm

What do u think of the name Emlee Reann ?


Laura from MI on August 26th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Abeeku (Ah-bay-koo) – born on Wednesday! He’s absolutely adorable! I hope I get to see him when I go next month!


Melissa on August 26th, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Can’t wait to see him when I visit in February. How large will he be by then?


Friend on August 26th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

my bad read the blog wrong sorry. he is still a cutie tho.


David on August 26th, 2011 at 3:28 pm

How about a name like DAKVA ? DAK for Disney Animal Kingdom and VA for his mother’s name.


Kimberly from CT on August 26th, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Adorable! I love elephants and it’s a comfort to know that these animals receive the BEST of care from Walt Disney World. Their caregivers treat them like royalty and they deserve it! :-) Welcome little one :-)


Alisha on August 26th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Will he be out for people to see the end of September? I would love to show my kids :)


Christopher on August 26th, 2011 at 4:10 pm

The baby is so cute!!! Can”t wait to see him when we come to visit in just 8 days.


Jennifer on August 26th, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Awwww! We can’t wait to see him!


sandra on August 26th, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Born on my birthday!!!! Welcome little one—you are so cute! Can’t wait to see you. We come to the Park at least once a month–fortunate enough to live closeby and we have an annual pass. Can’t wait to see you in person—we will be there Sept 13!!!!


Rochelle from OK on August 26th, 2011 at 7:21 pm

awww too cute. i hope he is still small when we get there in June 2012. I luv baby elephantS!


Jodie on August 26th, 2011 at 7:24 pm

We went last September in 2010 and they just had a new baby. And now another one. I hope to see the new little one in June next year.


Jennifer on August 26th, 2011 at 8:51 pm

LOVE it. He is a wonderful addition to the herd. Can’t wait to see him in person in November. Just another “magical” thing to look forward to at Disney.


Stephanie from FL on August 27th, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Awwww How cool! My daughter is so amazed over this! We are visiting Animal Kingdom labor day weekend, will the new baby be out as well so we can meet him?


Dustin on August 29th, 2011 at 7:23 pm

What about Dumbo? :) You don’t need no magic feather!


IRINA on August 30th, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Name – Dino.


Kelly on August 31st, 2011 at 10:07 pm

He is the cutest baby EVER!!! Congrats to the proud Mommy Vasha!! Oh, I cannot wait to get back to AK to see the little guy in person!! Only 62 more days to wait!!!


Emily on September 1st, 2011 at 3:35 am

Duke Kahanamoku was born August 24th as well. Maybe the baby should be called Duke, or Ade (royal in Nigeria) or Abeeku (Wednesday in Ghana). I think Abeeku sounds a bit like Duke.