First baby elephant conceived in Prague was born


05. 04. 2016

This morning, shortly after three o’clock, Janita gave birth to her first baby after 639 days of pregnancy. The birth of the new-born male will be recorded in the history of Prague Zoo because he is the first baby elephant not only born here but also conceived here. His father is Mekong, who conceived the baby before his departure to Emmen in Holland. Visitors to Prague Zoo will most probably be able to see the baby for the first time this Thursday.

The little male elephant, one hour and a quarter after birth. Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo The little male elephant, one hour and a quarter after birth. Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo

“He is the first baby elephant in the more than eighty years of history of elephant breeding to be not only born at Prague Zoo but also conceived there. The baby elephant’s mother is Janita, brought together with Tamara from Sri Lanka in 2012. The baby was born in the Elephant Valley, which was opened in 2013. We would not have been able to say these words if the founder had not enabled us to build the Elephant Valley, if the Czech diplomats, headed by Miloslav Stašek, had not helped us get female elephants from Sri Lanka, and, above all, if our team of elephant breeders, led by Pavel Brandl and Jiří Javůrek, had not been able to choose and adhere to the right methods of working with elephants,” said the Director of Prague Zoo, Miroslav Bobek.

The approaching Janita’s birth was monitored daily by veterinary surgeons by means of measuring progesterone levels. The values of this hormone drop to almost zero just before birth. Moreover, Wednesday, April 6, was the 640th day of mean pregnancy length. Thanks to all this information, the breeders were well-prepared for the event. This morning at quarter to two, a bump appeared under Janita‘s tail, which was an unmistakable signal of commencing birth. The breeders who were on duty at that moment led Janita into a box and called the whole team, including a veterinary surgeon.

Owing to her lack of experience, Janita was tied during the birth and this measure proved to be substantiated. The primipara did not accept the baby at the beginning and even indicated attack on the baby. “Such behavior is frequent in female elephants lacking experience and is attributed to the pain experienced at birth, which is associated by the female elephants with the baby,” curator Pavel Brandl explained. Therefore, the baby elephant was pulled away to be safe and only after an hour gradually drawn nearer to his mother in order for her to get used to him. Fortunately, Janita‘s behavior changed and after several unsuccessful attempts, the baby drank milk from his mother for the first time 4 hours after his birth. The young male is very active and avails himself of each opportunity to drink milk from his mother. For the time being, he has been collecting experience in the search for his mother‘s nipples; Janita‘s height does not help him either. Fresh mother Janita has drunk and eaten since the birth so that everything has been going well.

Prague Zoo has received numerous congratulations. Jan Wolf, Councilor of the capital city of Prague, said: “This day is more than joyful for Prague Zoo. The birth of a baby elephant is a great success and all the employees of the zoo must be thanked for this. I firmly hope that the small baby elephant will do well and will be of sound health. I also believe that people, not only from Prague, will have time to come and see the baby elephant.”


Janita was tied during the birth. Miroslav Bobek, Prague ZooJanita was tied during the birth. Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo