“Q”, Planckendael’s newborn elephant, was able to take a walk on his own on Friday, and it would appear he is now strong enough to soon be placed, little by little, with his mother and the herd again. According to the zoo, however, it is still early days. The baby elephant must urgently learn to suckle and the zoo hopes the mother will not reject him after the period apart. The baby elephant was born on Wednesday morning and is still being fed formula milk which, although suited to the baby elephant’s needs, has been shown at other wildlife parks to reduce baby animals’ life expectancy to just one year.
“It is therefore crucial that we do our utmost to get “Q” back with his mother, May Tagu, so he can feed on his mother’s milk instead”, announced Planckendael zoo in a press release on Friday. “Will May Tagu let “Q” suckle? Will “Q” understand how to suckle? These are just a few of the questions we are unsure of the answers to, but we are doing our best to get this little family off to a good start.”
The baby elephant was a source of worry for zoo keepers as soon as he was born. May Tagu is an inexperienced mother and overly-protective, which led her to be rough with the baby elephant, jostling him each time he tried to get to his feet. It is crucial that a newborn be able to stand only hours after being born in order to be able to suckle. “Q” seemed very weak and had difficulty getting around so a decision was made to take him away from his mother.