What Name Will You Choose?

Posted at 2:21 pm August 6, 2010 by Yadira Galindo

Vote for the little guy's name!

We received 1,019 exceptional suggestions from all of you to help us name Umoya’s 3-month-old male calf. The Park’s elephant keepers reviewed each and every one of them and had quite a few chuckles along the way.

Thank you to all of those who suggested that the calf be named after themselves! And thank you to all those who offered a tie to this year’s largest sporting event, the World Cup held in South Africa. Personally, I really liked “vuvuzela,” but it sounded a bit feminine. However, that’s just my opinion, and I didn’t vote. One of the several people who suggested this word offered this reasoning: “apropos, as the instrument is long and trumpets loudly, like an elephant’s trunk.” Cute!

He loves a good squirt of water!

Because the calf seems to love playing in water and having it poured into his mouth, many people suggested names that incorporated water, including “waterspout.” One person offered the name “Loxi” based on the African elephant genus of Loxodonta; someone had their thinking cap on!

But in the end, the keepers meticulously narrowed the choices down to three names that would translate well into SiSwati, the language of the Kingdom of Swaziland, the country the calf’s parents were rescued from in 2003.

The final three names are:

1. Emanti, a word that means “water.”

2. Usutu, which is a large river in Swaziland.

3. Mnakabo, a word that means “their brother.” This word was chosen to represent the herd’s growing population.

Beginning Monday, August 9, and until August 12, you’ll have the chance to vote for your favorite of the three final choices. Voting will be online only, and all you have to do is go here to cast your vote. We’ll reveal the name at 11 a.m. on Thursday, August 26, at the Park’s elephant exhibit. Join us if you can, or watch it on Elephant Cam.

Follow this link to help name the elephant calf: http://www.sandiegozoo.org/africansummerfestival/calf_contest.php

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51 Responses to “What Name Will You Choose?”

  1. Mae was from NJ says:

    Great names! It’ll be hard to choose. Whatever the name he gets, he will still be lovable and wonderful.

  2. Annie Panda says:

    How exciting! That elephant is so cute! I love the first name, Emanti. It has a nice ring to it, and it sounds like a perfect name for him! I guess I’ll vote now, 🙂 Bye!

  3. Don Stillwell says:

    If you’ve ever watched the keepers squirt water into his mouth, or give him a soaking from a hose, or watched him follow Moya into the pool and then frolicked with Mom and others for long periods of time in the water, you could see that Emanti, a word that means “water” would be an ideal name for this cute little bundle of joy.

  4. faith says:

    I would most defintely vote for Emanti. It’s a cute name, catchy name, easy to pronounce name with a very significant meaning. Since the calf loves water, why not?

  5. Don Stillwell says:

    Wonder if, under MEET THE ELEPHANTS, you would consider listing the birth weight as well as the current weight. Although I have watched them all since birth, I could not remember that Macembay was the calf with the highest birth weight (at 268 pounds). Still looking for the birthweights of Looty, and Moya’s, whose name is the subject of this blog and will be announced on August 26 at 11:00 a.m.

  6. Don Stillwell says:

    Guess Moya’s boy has a hard time being a boy. You should have seen how hard and what a long shove Swazi gave him when he was playing with Macembay. Guess he will have to be reminded of the blog with the etiquette of how to act in the presence of Queen Swazi.

  7. Casey says:


  8. David Eisner says:

    Definitely Mnakabo.

  9. Diana S. says:

    I’m going with Emanti. That little boy loves water!

  10. Shirley Sykes says:

    I like the name Usutu. It sounds rather someone is all puckered up to give him a big kiss! So here’s a kiss from me, little Usutu!

  11. Stephanie says:

    I think the name should be Shibalba!

  12. cindy in kc says:

    when I click on the link above, it goes back to the ellie cam- no place to actually vote that I see.

    I am going with Mnakabo- call him Bo for short- 🙂

    Moderator’s note: The link has been fixed.

  13. Allie says:

    After reading the full explanations of the different names… I chose the name that fit his heritage, Usutu. It incorporates his country, family and the great river of water for which they come from. Most excellent. 🙂

  14. Don Stillwell says:

    Camera or camera operator? Camera aimed at dirt in front of yard gate for more than 30 minutes. Could someone get it aimed down the field to include the pool?

  15. Chari Mercier says:

    YEA!!! Finally get a chance to vote for this little guy’s new name!! I looked at the 3 names, and I voted for Usutu. For one, it’s easier to pronounce, and two, it fits this little ellie to the tea! He loves to be in and around water like crazy, and naming him after the river in Swaziland was a no brainer for me! A little disappointed that Bafana didn’t make the list, but maybe that name will make the next list of names when the new calf is born early next year! Can’t believe this May calf is 3 months old already!!

    Will check back later to see which name this little ellie will have!

    Chari Mercier 🙂

    St. Pete, FL

  16. Dianne in Texas says:

    Even tho it wasn’t the one I suggested, I chose Mnakabo. It honors the herd. (And I’ll shorten it to ‘Kabo!) 😉

  17. Joseph from Illinois says:


  18. Don Stillwell says:

    NAME OUR NEW CALF is the name of a picture to the right of the elephantcam picture. To vote, click on this picture and vote for one of the 3 choices. After voting you will see how many votes have been made. Any time you click on the picture after voting, you will see the number of votes that have been made by that time. Your choices are at the top of this blog.

  19. Lisa B says:

    Can we have an update on Lungile? She has had a special place in my heart since her calf passed away.

  20. Chari Mercier says:

    Hi! I would love to have an update on the momma ellie that’s pregnant and due early next year! How is she doing so far?

    Haven’t heard about Jewel and Tina lately. How are the girls doing and what have they been up to at EO?

    Can Lungile get pregnant again? Would love to see her with her own calf very soon. I think that she will be a great mom when given the chance to take care of her own calf. She’s still the only momma ellie in this herd that does not have her own calf yet after she lost her first baby. She deserves to be a mom!

    Keep us updated on all of the calves, ok? Will check back later!

    Chari Mercier 🙂

    St. Pete, FL

  21. cindy in kc says:

    just saw baby boy run out of the pool, go chase some mule deer, and then run very wobbly over to mama and start nursing. He stopped immediately to go run them off again!!

    What a hoot to see! Perfect timing!! 🙂

  22. marie says:

    Is there only one vote per computer ISP? Everyone in my family wanted to vote separately but we couldn’t find how this was possible on this site, so we had a group vote (1 vote) for Ementi. He surely is a cute bundle of joy and such a brave little boy! Yesterday there seemed to be a lot of head-butting and pushing games going on. The moms seem laid back enough to let the boys push and butt even if it got very rowdy, but the older sisters seemed to be the ones to break it up. Lootie was funny too, he got “lost” from mom at one point. When the boys grow up will they be moved to the large field way in the distance behind the big yard ? (the yard far in the distance behind the big rock structure). We understand that they each must move away to have their own new family.

    Moderator’s note: Yes, the system allowed for one vote per computer. Glad your family got together to make it a joint project! As for the boys, since males in the wild stay with their birth herd until they’re about 10 years old, we have some time to plan for where they will go. Young males often live in bachelor herds before they begin breeding, so we will be keeping that in mind as we manage the herd.

  23. Evelyn Johnson says:

    I love the elephants and watch on the cam every day. I would like to know if possible that you are not going to be

    sending the elephants back to their native countries are you like they send the Pandas back to China and are let

    loose in the wild are you? I vote for Emanti because he loves the water.

    Moderator’s note: We have no plans to send elephants to Africa, as there is not enough habitat for the animals already there.

  24. deb says:

    I noticed my submission (brother to many) was mentioned. I must admit that would be kind of fun if Mnakabo was selected. However, all the names suit him very well.

    Musi is getting to be a gorgeous bull. He’s getting those long legs that I find so humorous. I don’t think he is going to have Mabu’s massive head though.

  25. Grace says:

    All three names sound special and meaningful, but when I look at the calf’s pictures I could not help but call him Emanti!

  26. Dianna - Ohio says:

    Good Grief!! The males hang around until they are 10 years old? When do males mature to reproduce? It looks like WAP is on their way to have their very own bachelor herd…

    #23 question made me think of one… Are there any other animals shipped back to their motherland because of “ownership” and “on loan agreements”? Or the other animals are just moved from zoo to zoo because of the SSP? I guess that’s 2 questions… 🙂

  27. cindy in kc says:

    Question- Is there any way we could get a voter tally update on all the names,not just the one you voted for. If you have voted, and click on the link, it only tells you how many the one name has. I am curious to see who has more if possible. thanks. 🙂

    Moderator’s note: Your question has been forwarded to the appropriate people on our Web team.

  28. Don Stillwell says:

    How tall is Moya’s calf?

  29. els says:

    Hello, I am from Holland, I look every day with webcam of your beautifull elephants My complents for your Zoo for the livingplace of your elephants so big and beautifull. Greetings from Amsterdam Holland..

  30. lauren says:

    usutu sounds like the moms name, it makes perfect sense to name it that

  31. Karen of Chandler says:

    Emanti is a great name but whatever name he gets will be great.

  32. donna a says:

    Could someone please tell me what will happen to all these male babies as they become older and can’t stay with the mothers?? I am very curious to know…

  33. Don Stillwell says:

    You don’t like me to mention the camera, but it hasn”t moved since the beginning of the RUSH!

  34. Don Stillwell says:

    It’s so much nicer to focus on one out of the yard than on some of the 15 that are in the yard.

  35. Don Stillwell says:

    17 minutes and finally in the yard with Dula and Looty. Thanks.

  36. Don Stillwell says:

    Under item 5, I suggested you list birth weights as well as current weights of the elephant calves. I have found all but Punga’s. Khosi, 9-11-2006, 209 pounds; Punga, 3-11-2007, unknown; Kami, 9-19-2007, 238 pounds; Ingadze, 3-13-2009, 225 pounds; Looty, 2-14-2010, 224 pounds; Makembay, 4-12-2010, 268 pounds; Moya’s calf (to be named 8-26-2010), 5-12-2010, 220 pounds.

  37. Pat says:

    donna a – I would assume the male elephants will go to other zoos like any other animal does when it becomes mature. Or perhaps they will form a bachelor herd with some of them

  38. cindy in kc says:

    oh man! Pool guy must have came today- no swimming tonight.. and or is it cooler to drain it today and refill tomorrow? they were ‘dusting’ themselves at 7:00PDT. 🙂

  39. marie says:

    If he is voted Emanti we can call him “Monty” YEAY!! The Three Muskateers will be: Monty, Mac and Lootie!! We just found out we will be visiting San Diego in October!! We are so happy!! We live on the east coast and are coming out just for the elephants!! (Oh and the polar bears too).

    Moderator’s note: We look forward to your visit! Just remember, the elephant calves are at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, historically called the Wild Animal Park, and the polar bears are at the San Diego Zoo, so be sure to plan accordingly to see everyone. 😉

  40. kathy howell says:

    I love the way the little guys hang out together, right now they are , the three of them playing in the small pool

  41. Pat says:

    I was at the Park today. One of the keepers said 2 elephants are pregnant, one due in January. I missed the names of the elephants? Which two are pregnant?

    Moderator’s note: Litsemba is expecting her second calf, due in January 2011; I haven’t heard about any other pregnancies.

  42. Don Stillwell says:

    Looks like the baby elephants gain about 1 and 1/2 pounds a day on the average. Does that sound about right? Ingadze has gained 800 pounds in 16 months (50 per month), Looty has gained 300 pounds in 5 months (60 per month), Mackembay gained 172 in 3 months (about 60 per month) and (name to be announced August 26, hopefully Emanti,) gained 90 pounds in 2 months (about 45 per month). Used the birth weights I posted in item 36 and the July weight shown in Meet the Elephants.

  43. Don Stillwell says:

    For you doubters, on 4 different occasions when I checked the elecam today, I saw elephants in the pool and they sure seemed to be having a great time. Once there was at least 7 splashing about, including a couple of the littlest ones. It pays to check in occasionally because you could see not only pool activity, but the little ones sometimes get together for a playtime.

  44. Don Stillwell says:

    August 26, tomorrow, will be the announcement of Moya’s baby’s name. He may be a little boy now but when he grows up ‘E MAN ti. I’ll be there at 11:00 a.m. for the announcement and anything else that happens. Great work with your wards, keepers, and I know you ALREADY use a lot of enrichment items with YOUR elephant family!

  45. Michelle in Buffalo NY says:

    Awww that was CUTE how you guys revealed the name! Who pulled the hanging leaves down?

    Moderator’s note: The baby’s mother, Moya.

  46. Allie says:

    Love his new name. It really looks great on the rocks. I had a thought … could you in some way carve or paint all of their names on the rocks as a tribute to this amazing family?

    Pool time is my favorite time right now. Most days around 2 – 3pm (that’s California time) they are in the pool having a great time. The teenagers are the funniest to watch. They really like to splash around.

    Have a great day everyone …… 🙂

  47. cindy in kc says:

    Was his name hiding under the limbs and such hanging off the roof of the rock house? I didnt see it at all when I began looking at 11:19 pdt- and then in another 20 mins or so Emanti is showing up. What a neat idea to have it hiding after the ‘rush’..;)

    Moderator’s note: It was indeed waiting to be revealed by an elephant 😉

  48. Donna says:

    For those of us who missed the announcement of Moya’s son being named .. could you please tell us who follow the blogs and watch the cams what it is please?

    Moderator’s note: A blog will be posted soon, describing the festivities 😉

  49. Don Stillwell says:

    Moya definitely pulled off the large piece of browse that covered the word EMANTI and threw it over her back. If anyone was fast enough they could have taken a family portrait of Moya, Kami, and Emanti about 15 seconds later as they turned and walked past the pool area. It would have made my day if Moya had taken Emanti (which means water) into the pool to have a splashing good time. When I got home, my wife told me that Lungile had taken some of the youngsters into the pool about a half hour after I left. Emanti is 3 months and 2 weeks old today (born 5-12-2010). Wonder how soon the name Emanti will be posted in the Meet the Elephants column?

  50. Don Stillwell says:

    OOPS. Just checked. EMANTI is already posted in the column. Great job.

  51. Tina from Tampa says:

    I know babies are great but some old friends have been waiting with baited breath to hear how Msholo is doing! I hope he has settled into his new home. I would really love an update on how things are going with him. I sure miss seeing him every day and spending my extra time giving him baths and getting him to run across his exhibit chasing our golf cart up the road beside him. Please remind him that his old keepers think of him every day!!!


    Moderator’s note: Will do, Tina. We’ve started construction to join the two large exhibits, so Msholo will be having some company in a few months.