San Diego

What's in a Name? San Diego Zoo Safari Park's Largest Baby Elephant Given Swahili Name

She was the biggest elephant calf ever born at the Safari Park

Welcome to the family, Mkhaya! 

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has revealed the name of the newest calf to join the African elephant herd. 

Mkhaya was born on Sept. 26 to the park's 28-year-old African elephant, Umngani.

The female calf weighed in at a whopping 281 pounds at birth, making her the biggest calf ever born at the Safari Park, zoo officials said.

Mkhaya is named after a wildlife reserve in the southern African nation of Swaziland, and the naming follows the San Diego Zoo Safari Park's tradition of naming African elephants with Swahili-based words, the park said. 

The park's four adult elephants, including Mkhaya's mother, were rescued in 2003 from Swaziland, where their habitat was being threatened. 

Elephant keepers were anticipating Mkhaya's birth but the calf came earlier than expected. It was born overnight and the birth was captured on the park's security cameras.

"[Umngani] has given birth three other times, and those calves arrived late — so when we checked on her first thing [Wednesday] morning, we were surprised and thrilled to see her caring for her healthy newborn," Safari Park animal care supervisor Curtis Lehman said.

Mkhaya's birth was the second elephant birth in two months for the park. A 277-pound male calf arrived on Aug. 12 and has been named Umzula-zuli.

She joins a herd of 13 other elephants. They can be seen on a Safari Park webcam.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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