UPDATE 20 OCTOBER 2022: AND HIS NAME IS… MAXI!
The newborn elephant was named… Maxi! Born to Faya and Fahim, Maxi was named after his grandfather Maximus. The little one is doing very well. After a short stay in the delivery room, baby Maxi can now venture outside every day (weather permitting). Stones, branches, water: everything is new to and exciting to Maxi, who explores the world around him under the watchful eyes of his mother and grandmother. His young uncle Radijk is also excited to play with him!
UPDATE 10 OCTOBER: VISIT BABY MAXI
You can now visit baby Maxi! Watch Faya give birth to her baby and see Maxi take his first wobbly steps. The elephants are a close, social family and form a protective circle around the calf. The inexperienced Faya gets plenty of help from her mother Bangka, who has raised three healthy calves. This is Faya’s first calf and she’s doing great!
SUNDAY 9 OCTOBER: BABY ELEPHANT BORN
Rotterdam Zoo welcomed a new Asian elephant this morning at 4:08 AM. And it’s a boy! This is the first calf for Faya and both mother and son are doing well. The pair will be given plenty of time to rest and bond, which is why Taman Indah’s indoor habitat will be closed to the public today. While you won’t be able to admire the new addition in person, you can follow the elephant herd live via webcam as of 10:00 AM.
Maxi is the sixteenth healthy elephant calf born in Rotterdam. Labour went well and the calf weighed about 80 kilos at birth. Elephants have a long gestation period of 22 to 24 months. But Maxi was well worth the wait!
The calf was born indoors, surrounded by the herd, just like in nature.
Faya was supported by her mother Bangka, who is now a grandmother. The Rotterdam herd is a tight-knit family of seven consisting of Irma, Faya, Bangka, little Radjik and baby Maxi. There are four generations at Rotterdam Zoo, which is fairly unique in the world. The zoo is also home to two other female elephants, Trong Nhi and Nhi Linh, who are not part of the herd. Male elephants, also known as bulls, do not raise their young and live separate from the herd, both in zoos and in the wild. They only seek out females during mating season. Fahim was brought to Rotterdam specifically to mate, but has since been relocated to Copenhagen.
New additions to the herd are important for the international population management programme (EEP), which Rotterdam Zoo has coordinated since 1991, and for maintaining the fertility of the adult females. The older the elephant, the lower the fertility. Infertility is also more common in females who have never been pregnant. New generations play an important role in herd hierarchy. Young females are taught how to raise calves from their more experienced mothers.
Asian elephants have lost about 85% of their natural habitat The number of Asian elephants in the wild is currently estimated to be between 30,000 and 50,000. While this may seem like a lot, the wild population is extremely fragmented, with India boasting the largest number at around 8,000.
Large-scale DNA research
Rotterdam Zoo partnered with researchers at Wageningen University and Research to conduct a large-scale study on the genetic health of Asian elephants. The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) awarded a grant for this unique collaboration. As part of the study, several European zoos, including Rotterdam Zoo, provided blood samples from the elephants in their care. The researchers are working with the NCBS research institute in India to obtain blood samples from elephants in the wild. In this way, Rotterdam Zoo is contributing to the survival and biodiversity of this iconic yet endangered species.