Thandi’s baby girl, Fiela, finally arrived in the late hours on Tuesday 5 March, weighing a healthy 82kg.
Fiela is strong and feisty, bravely learning the new skill of walking without wobbling and falling over. The next challenge for Fiela will be to master the art of suckling from mom. Given the fact that infant elephants are inevitably 2cm shorter than where mom’s teat is, that task is rather daunting!
Thandi is the daughter of Nandi. Nandi is 20 years old and came to the Park as an orphan 10 years ago. Not long after her arrival, she delivered the very first calf born at the Park, Thandi. Thandi is turning 10 this year – the exact same age as her mother when she gave birth. To welcome the beginning of a third generation at the Park is an extremely special occasion, not only for us, but for the elephants themselves! Most of the elephants arrived at the Park as orphans and had to work out their own family structure. To now witness the natural succession of a third generation is indeed a privilege!
The KEP team has been monitoring both Nandi and Thandi carefully for the last couple of months, with preparations in place for the babies’ arrival at any time. It is natural for pregnant humans to be a few days or a few weeks overdue, and in elephant terms (where the pregnancy period is more than twice as long), it is quite natural to be a few months overdue according to veterinarians. Logical as this may be, the KEP team still fretted, carefully monitoring and watching both females every day. Now we just await Nandi’s turn … but her mothering skills have already proven to be exceptional in the way she raised Thandi.
In the meantime, little Fiela grows stronger and cuter by the day!