Baby 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.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Comments are currently closed. Pinging is not allowed.