Mekong Has Girl Problems


22. 11. 2013

The male elephant Mekong has got some issues with his females that kind of surprise him by their behaviour. It is, however, expected that he should become a father.

Sita is lovingly cared by most of the member of the herd. Photo: Tomáš Adamec, Zoo Praha Sita is lovingly cared by most of the member of the herd. Photo: Tomáš Adamec, Zoo Praha

About a year and half, when just three elephants lived in Prague, this would be hard to imagine. However now, when the elephant valley shelters the biggest herd in the Czech Republic, the situation is quite different.

Wild Shanti

The herd behaves as they would in their natural environment. The large enclosures resound by excited trumpeting and the chase often raises dust. The elephant carers experienced the most demanding year in the history of Prague Zoo. A major part of which was played the female Shanti. In her youth she had no chance to acquire the right sort of social skills and caused a great deal of trouble in the group. It was even considered that she might be moved to a different zoo. Fortunately, the situation improved significantly ten months after the baby elephant Sita was born and eight months after the arrival of female elephants from Sri Lanka.

Older ones are more daring

"At the beginning, Shanti would attack new elephants and was a source of tension in the group. Now the situation is different and she tolerates others as she did Sita," describes the situation the chief elephant caretaker Jiří Javůrek. But Gulab, who has been living for 47 years in the zoo, has begun to exercise dominant behaviour especially towards young female elephants. She therefore spends time in her own box when indoors, but she can go outside with the others.
The cub likes to provoke

The ten-month old Sita is the centre of the all that is happening. Other elephants love her and she knows that the older ones will tolerate her many mischiefs. Therefore she often provokes them to play with her. "Sita's best friend is her older sister Tonya that she likes to play with," says Jiří Javůrek. The baby elephant also spends quite a lot of time with its mum Donna and young elephant female Tamarou. Sita has made quite a progress recently, she managed to master her trunk and slowly begun to eat solid food.

Mekong and his girls

The females continue to couple with the male Mekong. He shows a definite preference to young Janita trying to mate with her repeatedly. Also interesting are his encounters with Tonya. "The relationship between Mekong and Tonya is fascinating. Tonya je is very temperament and daring animal. Her behaviour is embarrassing Mekong and sometimes we are not able to fully understand his reactions," says Javůrek. Mekong's presence in the female herd is often accompanied by loud trumpeting, chasings and sometimes even nagging by trunks or tusks.

Because of the colder weather, the elephants now leave for the enclosure after midday and stay here until 3 pm. Visitors can look at them also in the indoor pavilion on via online cameras here: