Earlier this year, the Dallas Zoo and two partners successfully completed a rescue mission to relocate 17 elephants from drought-stricken Swaziland, Africa, to new homes in the U.S. Five of those elephants ended up taking permanent residence at the Dallas Zoo. It was quickly discovered that one of the four females, Mlilo, was pregnant and in May she delivered a calf that was named Ajabu. “This birth validates the critical importance of our rescue efforts and why we worked so hard to get these animals to safety... I shudder to think what would have happened to Mlilo and her calf if this move hadn’t occurred, and without the last six months of food and water we provided while they were in Swaziland, plus the excellent care and nutrition they have received upon their arrival.” said Gregg Hudson, Dallas Zoo president and CEO. After his birth, Dallas Zoo officials allowed several months for the calf and mother to bond privately while staff worked to “baby-proof” every area the baby would inhabit, including two barns, behind-the-scenes yards, and the lower portion of the Giants of the Savanna habitat. Portions of the habitat, which includes 12-foot-deep ponds and gaps that needed to be closed off, were safeguarded for the well-being of the little fellow. A shallow portion of the pond remains for the water-loving calf to enjoy. And as he grows, he will be given access to deeper parts of the pond.
At birth, Ajabu weighed 175 pounds and stood about 3 feet tall, with a tiny trunk just over a foot long. He’s now up to 332 pounds and stands almost 4 feet tall. His teeth are starting to grow in, and he’s experimenting with solid foods, like produce and hay. He still nurses often and remains close to Mlilo, who remains the ultimate, protective mom. A constant ball of energy, Ajabu enjoys “sparring” with tree branches, pushing his favorite ball around, and exploring with his trunk, which he recently discovered makes noises when he’s excited. In addition to Ajabu and Mlilo, who’s believed to be about 14 years old, the Swaziland elephants at the Dallas Zoo include bull Tendaji and females Zola, Amahle and Nolwazi. All range in age from 6 to their mid-20s. They join the zoo’s four “Golden Girls” – Jenny, Gypsy, Congo and Kamba – in the award-winning Giants of the Savanna habitat. Ajabu and Mlilo eventually will join other herd members in the habitats after careful, methodical introductions.
African elephants face many threats, ranging from human encroachment on their habitat to extreme poaching, which claims the life of nearly 100 elephants every day. To learn more about the great work that the Dallas Zoo is going, visit www.dallaszoo.com. To follow baby Ajabu's adventures and all of the many other amazing animals that call the Dallas Zoo home, follow them on Instagram @DallasZoo.
AJABU & MLILO ARE OUT! Adoring fans of our 5-month-old #elephant calf and his amazing mama can now see the duo in the lower portion of the Giants of the Savanna. Earlier this week, #Ajabu and Mlilo were gently introduced to the habitat. But starting today, they will make regular appearances outdoors, weather permitting. Our elephant team will keep a watchful eye on temperature and rain to ensure our growing boy remains safe and healthy. Ajabu loves to climb the small exhibit rocks, “spar” with tree branches, and follow his incredibly patient mom around. WATCH/READ how we “baby-proofed” every area this 332-pound baby would inhabit (and see photos)!🔸Direct link's in our bio.🔸