Elephants: Umoya’s Calf

Posted at 11:26 am July 8, 2010 by Curtis Lehman

Umoya and her son

As many of you know, there were some difficult circumstances following the birth of Umoya’s calf on May 12 of this year (see post, A May Elephant Baby) at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, so it’s been a big relief to their adoring and caring public, their keepers, and our veterinary staff that things have worked out so well for the both of them.

The little guy currently weighs 290 pounds (132 kilograms) as of July 4. He’s figured out some of the social hierarchy within the herd, namely “watch your step” around Swazi. He’s learning to play with half brothers Ingadze, Lutsandvo, and Swazi’s calf, born in April (see Newest Elephant Calf).

Nap time!

Umoya’s son is very easy to entertain if you have a hose in your hand. Big sister Kami shares the babysitting duties with Mom, but for the most part he stays pretty close to Umoya. Because of this, whenever Umoya ventures into the big pool, junior follows right behind her without any hesitation. If the water level is such that he can remain standing, he’s usually right underneath her, dipping his mouth into the pool for a drink or three (he likes to drink). If the pool level is higher, he’ll actually swim around her. If his head goes under, he’s already figured out the trunk-periscope thing, which is just hilarious to observe. He really loves the water, more than any of the other calves have at this age.

If you get the chance to come to the Wild Animal Park, make sure you visit the Elephant Viewing Patio for the 11 a.m. Elephant Rush and also later in the afternoon, when the elephants are more likely to be swimming in the pool. You might be lucky and get to observe a “Baby Pool Party” from a great vantage point. And if Umoya decides it’s time to cool off, you’re sure to see little munchkin #3 sliding in right behind her!

Curtis Lehman is an animal care supervisor at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park.

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17 Responses to “Elephants: Umoya’s Calf”

  1. Dianna - Ohio says:

    Hi Curtis, I like reading the posts on the baby elephants. I hope to get to the WAP to see the calves in August when I come out to the Black and White Overnight at the Zoo.

    From reading previous posts, I understand that Swazi is the dominant female. Why would Umoya’s calf need to “watch his step” around her. Being the dominant female means what to the calf?

    Is there a tradition of waiting until he’s a certain number of days old before naming him (like the Pandas)?

    Thank you!

    Moderator’s note: Check back soon for name info!

  2. Karen of Chandler says:

    I love watching Elephant Rush. I love watching the elephants in the pool swimming around and playing.

  3. rita says:

    Thanks for the update. It’s good news indeed.

    After the two youngest elephants are named, wish there could be a chart with pictures of each female and her offspring listing any identifying feature the female and offspring have. I think Ndula has one crooked tusk and Umngani has the longest tusks. One female has a sagging stomach, Samba?

  4. Sherry says:

    I love watching the elecam!! Thanks so much for the update!!

  5. Michelle says:

    I love the pic of Umoya, she looks like she’s laughing 🙂

  6. kimmi says:

    Thank you for info about the new baby. I look forward to seeing him on elecam. You have the best job that I can think of.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I so think they should be the “three tusketeers”! I love the posts…keep up the great work!

  8. Don Stillwell says:

    Re: 3. The sagging stomach is the sign of a female whose first baby was a boy. Dula had Moose first. thus a sagging stomach, which she still has after Looty was born. Umngani had a girl first so no sagging when Ingadze was born. Sambo had Punga, a boy, first, thus a sagging stomach. She is due in January 2011. Swazi has a sagging stomach due to her first, a son, born 4-12-2010, due to be named next week if the response to comments is accurate. Moya, like Umngani, had a girl first so no sagging occurred when her son, still to be named, was born on 5-12-2010. I like your idea of a chart or something with pictures of moms and offspring and identifying features. Hi, Curtis, thanks for the update, it was excellent. I”m sure your fertile brain and love for your charges already had something in motion that would be appreciated by all your avid fans.

  9. Cheryl says:

    Would love to see the little one “snorkeling’ in the pond with mom — way too cute!!

    Thank you for the update — I am way overdue for a visit (the last time I was there I went ziplining over the animals — too cool for words!) — so I really need to go back and see the “three tuskateers” while they are still small and adventurous.

    Moderator’s note: Glad you enjoyed our Flightline adventure!

  10. Chari Mercier says:

    Hi! Thanks, Curtis, for the update on Umoya and her little baby boy. I am so glad that both of them have made it thru their health issues in very good shape. I just love Umoya’s calf because he is just always trying to do something to entertain himself, and he has become a very accomplished swimmer with his trunk up as a snorkel tube! I thought that was him in the pool swimming a couple of weeks ago when I checked the elliecam. He’s always figuring things out!

    Don Stillwell, you have finally answered my question on the name of the pregnant ellie mom and her due date when no one else would answer it! Samba is due in January, 2011! Thanks!! Hopefully, Samba has a baby girl calf, and the calf will be very healthy.

    Well, gonna go for now. Gonna go back and check elliecam again.

    Chari Mercier 🙂

    St. Pete, FL

  11. Bernice in the Yukon says:

    I am just watching groundskeepers working in the compound and I have to ask…what does the zoo do with all the poop…do you have a recycling program of some sort…I have heard some places are looking at making paper from e.g. panda poop or it is used as a fuel…I love elephant rush.

    Moderator’s note: We do have a lot to scoop up! Most of the poop is taken to a landfill, where it is turned into compost.

  12. Bernice in the Yukon says:

    Dear Moderator…thank you for answering my question…a huge thank you to the camera operator who is trying so hard to follow the elephant rush action!

  13. Margaret in VA says:

    Just happened to glance at the Elephant came and saw 10 elephants and calves out. Realized it is 11:13 so they are out in the Elephant Rush. So exciting to see everyone rushing around for goodies!

  14. Carole in San Diego says:

    Great to hear that Umoya and her calf are doing well. A great description of him swimming and snorkeling around Umoya. I would love to see that little swimmer. It would be great if you could post a video of the baby ele swim parties.

    The photo of him sleeping is adorable.

  15. Ginny says:

    Don, loved the update about all the girls but I still haven’t seen any info about Lungile. Any answer on whether she’ll breed again?

    Curtis responds: There are no longer any restrictions on Lungile to prevent her from conceiving again, so it’ll be up to Mabhulane or perhaps Msholo to breed her. Whether she gets pregnant, we’ll have to wait and see.

  16. Mike says:


  17. Kim says:

    I just love the baby Elephants , adults as well. Just wanted to thank you for sharing them with us . It is simply wonderful. Have all my friends friends watching too, and voting for the baby’s new name. I see on my computer screen every day a HUGE labor of love in San Diego. May you all be blessed a million times over for helping these beautiful animals.

    Loving SD Zoo in NC