Prague Zoo announces birth of elephant calf

Photo: Roman Vodička / Prague Zoo

Amid the doom and gloom of the coronavirus epidemic, Prague Zoo has announced a piece of good news: the birth of an elephant calf. The zoo closed its doors to visitors ten days ago, but it is promising fans videos and regular reports on the newcomer.

Photo: Roman Vodička / Prague Zoo

Although the gates of Prague Zoo remain firmly closed, life behind them goes on and the zoo’s vet and elephant keeper had a busy night birthing the newcomer. The fact that all keepers have been divided into separate teams to prevent them being quarantined at the same time reportedly made the situation even more difficult, but the team assisting the birth was able to report good news in the early hours of Friday – the birth of a healthy female elephant calf to Indian mother Tamara and 37-year old male Indian elephant Ankhor who was brought to Prague Zoo to support its breeding program in 2014 from Berlin Zoo.

Anhkor lived up to expectations and the zoo was able to take further its breeding program announcing the pregnancy of two female elephants in quick succession roughly 22 months ago. Tamara delivered her baby calf first; Juanita is expected to do so any day now. Both mother and newborn are reported to be doing fine. The zoo is expected to let the public send in suggestions regarding a suitable name in due time.

Prague Zoo,  photo: ČTK/Michal Kamaryt
Prague Zoo acquired its first elephant in 1933, just two years after the zoo was founded. However it was only after the year 2,000 that the zoo started an elephant breeding program. The first elephant to be born in the zoo was the female Sita in 2013. Three years later Janita and Tamara both had male calves – Rudolf and Maxmilian. And if all goes well, Juanita will give the Prague Zoo its fifth calf any day now.

The zoo currently has seven adult elephants – Gulab, the eldest female whom the zoo acquired in 1966, is the second oldest animal in Prague Zoo, the breeding male Ankhora, an older male Mekong, Tamara, Juanita, Donna and Sita, as well three calves. In 2013 the zoo built a new pavilion for them at a cost of 500 million crowns to give them greater freedom of movement indoors and out.

Prague Zoo had close to 1.5 million visitors last year and is one of the most visited sites in the capital. It has 670 animal species and ranks fifth best in the world according to TripAdvisor’s annual Traveler’s Choice.

The zoo has spearheaded efforts to save the Przewalski horse and is the biggest breeder of the species in the world sending the horses back to their natural habitat in the wild on the plains of Mongolia.

With its doors closed for an unspecified period of time the zoo is now keeping fans abreast of developments by posting videos of its animals online. Its management has already announced that when the zoo’s doors reopen to the public health, firemen and police officers will be admitted for a symbolic one crown for the period of one month in a show of gratitude for their courage and dedication in fighting the coronavirus epidemic.