How Fast Does an Elephant Grow?

Posted at 1:25 pm December 22, 2006 by Fred Bercovitch

 Khosi nursingBaby Khosi nearly doubled her weight in her first three months of life (see previous blog, How Do You Weigh an Elephant?)! To put this in perspective, the average human baby also doubles in birth weight in about the same amount of time. The difference, of course, is that Khosi now weighs more than twice as much as football player LaDainian Tomlinson!

We’ve been tracking the growth of both baby elephants at the Wild Animal Park since their birth and have come up with a surprising result. We don’t know if the difference is because Khosi is a girl and Moose is a boy, because we only have one calf of each sex. But our results are opposite to what you might expect. This is one reason why studying animals is fun: you never know what you will discover! What we found was that Khosi is nursing for less time than Moose did when he was a baby, but she is growing at a faster pace. Khosi suckled for about 1.5 hours every day during her first month of life, while Moose was on his mom’s nipple for about 2 hours every day. In the first 90 days of life, Moose gained nearly 400 grams (2/3 pound) a day, but Khosi was adding almost 1,000 grams (2.2 pounds) a day. Moose is now almost three years old and weighs as much as a small car.

As with the other elephants in their herd, both youngsters spend most of their time eating, walking, and resting. Khosi is still getting food from her mom, but she is also eating solid foods. The elephants are fed a balanced diet of hay, pellets, and browse. Khosi has learned to pick up hay in her trunk and bring it to her mouth. But every once in a while, she still pops over to mom to get some milk. The two little ones sometimes goof around with each other, but Khosi is still a bit too small to really play with Moose, although he has tried to get some games going. It’s not surprising that she’s a bit reluctant to play with him because he’s five times as big as her! But as they continue to grow, and as more and more playmates are born into the herd, we should see a lot of pachyderm playfulness at the Park.

Fred Bercovitch is head of the Behavioral Biology Division of CRES; Jeff Andrews is the elephant animal care manager at the Wild Animal Park.

Watch the elephants daily on Elephant Cam.

View a photo gallery of Khosi’s pictures.

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20 Responses to “How Fast Does an Elephant Grow?”

  1. Margaret says:

    Fred, thanks for the update on Khosi. She is adorable. The photo gallery is fabulous and it is great to see some updated photos of her. Is the Elephant Cam working these days? I have only been able to see the elephant yard once in the past two weeks. I keep getting the white screen with blue lettering which normally means that it is not on for me to view. I have no trouble viewing the panda cam and polar bear cam, so I think it must be a connection to the elephant cam. I am looking forward to seeing live or recorded video of Moose and Khosi playing as she gets bigger so they can play more safely.

    Happy Holidays to all the elephants and their keepers!

    Moderator’s note: We are working to correct problems with Elephant Cam.

  2. Cheryl says:

    Thank you for the update and including a link to the photo gallery – Khosi and mom are adorable and the pictures are mesmerizing. Happy Holidays to everyone!

  3. Carole says:

    Thank you for the informative update on Khosi and Moose. I cannot wait to hear more about their interactions. Does Moose show any jealousy toward Khosi now that he is not the baby of the herd?

  4. Carole says:

    What great photos of beautiful, playful, photogenic Khosi!

  5. Calvin says:

    Did you have the privelage of seeing the birth of Moose and Khosi first hand?

  6. Judy J says:

    Happy New Year!! May you all be blessed with success, goodness, happiness and good fortune in this new year of 2007. May all of your precious pachyderms thrive and may all the new babies be born healthy and full of life. Thank you so much for all the joy you have brought to me and my family and countless others. You are my “Africa’ and I am so truly grateful for all of your love and hard work and dedication to the most amazing and intelligent gentle giant. As my grandchildren would say, ” You are awesome!” Blessed be all of thee. Luv, Judy J

  7. Michelle says:

    Why has Elephant Cam been down for the past couple weeks?? Miss my elephant fix!

  8. Maya-Christina says:

    I hope that everyone had a lovely Christmas and New Year at the Zoo! I hope that the elephant Cam is up and running because I, too, miss viewing the majestic mammals and especially trying to spot Moose and little Khosi!!

  9. Gustavo says:

    Happy New Year to all. Does anyone know when the web cam will be working again? Great photos of Khosi but it’s not the same as watching them live :).

    Moderator’s note: We are trying to resolve the problem.

  10. Michelle says:

    YAY!! Ele-cam is back on!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!

  11. Margaret in VA says:

    Thanks to all for fixing the Elephant Cam. It is great to be able to see Koshi and Musi growing again.

  12. Carole says:

    Please give us an update on Khosi, Moose and the new arrivals.

  13. Margaret says:

    New arrivals? When are the next baby elephants due this year?

  14. Rita says:

    Khosi was chasing after a deer this afternoon. What a great picture that would make.

    So glad to see the Elephant Cam back on the air. Really missed it.

  15. Gustavo says:

    I have been randomly checking the webcam and have not seen anyone lately. Does anyone know when is a good time to check?

  16. Margaret in VA says:

    Gustavo, I haven’t seen anyone, except humans cleaning up with dozers, for about a week. I used to see the elephants in the morning, and mid-afternoon, but they must be up closer to the ” corral.”

  17. Gustavo says:

    Thank you Margaret, I will check in the mornings. I hope to see the elephants soon.

  18. Margaret in VA says:

    Please give us an update on Khosi. I keep looking at the elephant cam to catch a glimpse, but have only seen her once in about a month.

    Is there another camera view that would show more activity of the elephants? I finally saw them briefly on Friday and Saturday afternoons strolling by the pond and grazing on the hill.

  19. Patricia McCallum says:

    I also would like a new camera view. the one by the corral was much better. i don t see anything on this camera and now with new babies i would really enjoy my window to the animals. i m disabled and confined to my apt. here in Al. so this is my opportunity. thank you

  20. Margaret says:

    Congratulations to Litsemba and Mabu on your new baby boy!

    I am looking forward to a blog on your newest addition to the herd. It appeared from the video that he was immediately exposed to other members of the herd whereas, Khosi was not for several days to a week. Is it because he is a male calf, or that Litsemba is more comfortable around the other female elephants, and Khosi’s mother was not as comfortable? Now little Khosi (who is not so little) will have a smaller and younger playmate than Moosi to play with. As the new male grows he and Moosi can play rougher games together. At what age will the two males have to be separated to prevent ” fighting” for dominance over the younger females in the herd? Or, will Mabu’s overall dominance continue until the young males are either separated from the rest of the herd or sent to other zoos?