Two African elephant calves, Phakamile and Emanti, who lost their mother in an apparent fight, are being cared for by the other calves and females in the herd, according to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
“Kami and Emanti have been seen being cared by, by their aunts. You see them interacting with some of the other calves, playing, and simply following each other around,” said San Diego Zoo spokesperson Yadira Galindo.
The 21-year-old Umoya suffered severe injuries believed to be sustained during an “aggressive interaction” with another elephant on Nov. 16, according to a zoo spokesperson.
She died before veterinarians could try to save her.
After Umoya died, some of the elephants touched her with their trucks, according to a San Diego Zoo blog. Others stood quietly by her side. .
The African elephant’s calves, four-year-old Phakamile and 18-month-old Emanti were led away by other elephants in the herd, according to the zoo.
On Monday, Phakamile or “Kami” for short, and Emanti were seen interacting with other calves and their mothers, according to the zoo.
Kami is close to another female calf in the herd, Khosi. The girls like to “babysit” the other elephant calves, according to the zoo.
“Kami and Khosi have a very strong relationship. As the two female calves in the herd, they like to watch out for all the other calves, including Kami’s brother Emanti,” said Galindo.
Khosi’s mother, Umngani, often has Kami and Emanti in tow, along with her own three calves.
The orphaned calves continue to thrive, according to the zoo.
“Kami and Emanti are continuing to eat as normal. Both are gaining weight. We’ve been noticing quite a significant weight gain in Emanti,” said Galindo.
He gained 88 pounds in the last four days alone.
Umoya’s official cause of death is under investigation. It could take weeks until the results are released.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released a statement Friday demanding the Zoo Safari Park close its elephant exhibit along with other animal facilities.
"PETA is concerned that warning signs of internal conflict within the zoo's artificial herd were ignored by zoo staff and that Umoya's death, which has left her two babies orphaned, may have been preventable," the organization said in a written release.