Animal park Pairi Daiza in Brugelette in Hainaut province this weekend welcomed a new arrival, with the birth of a baby elephant on Friday night-Saturday morning.
The baby is the fourth to be born in the park, and the fourth offspring of 16-year-old mother Farina, whose first two calves were born while she was at Hannover Zoo in Germany.
The father is 18-year-old Po Chin, who has been at Pairi Daiza since 2010, and who has already sired two calves there – Ta Wan in 2017 and Malee in February this year.
The new female, who has not yet been named, is the second calf to be born this year. The zoo said she was in good health, surrounded by her mother and a team of zoo workers. The elephants at the park are Indian elephants, making up a herd 20-strong, the largest herd of Indian elephants in Europe.
The Indian elephant is one of three types of Asian elephant, all of which are generally smaller than their African cousins, standing up to 3.5m at the shoulder and weighing up to 5 tonnes. The female is smaller than the male, and has short tusks or none at all. Perhaps the most recognisable feature of the Indian variety is their noticeably smaller ears.
The Indian elephant has been listed as endangered since 1986, because of a loss of habitat, environmental deterioration and the fragmentation of wild populations. It is now extinct in Pakistan, but there are populations mainly in India, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia.
“We’ve had a lot of luck,” said head elephant keeper Rob Conachie. “This is the third female out of four births here. It’s a step forward in the protection of this species. There are only 38,000 of these wonderful creatures left on the planet, so every birth, especially of a female, is of huge importance.”