Auntie on duty

On September 10, keepers at the Melbourne Zoo welcomed a new baby elephant to their herd. Their Asian elephant Kulab gave birth to a healthy male calf. Mother and calf are doing well, and to judge from the video, the keepers couldn’t be happier. Don’t they look delirious?

It’s a boy! from Zoos Victoria on Vimeo.

Visitors flocking to the elephant exhibit at the Melborne zoo won’t just see Kulab and her new baby, they’ll see “auntie” Num-Oi. Elephants often share calf-rearing duties, and young elephants learn a lot from their aunties and grown-up sisters…what scientists call “allomothers.” Calves will often run to their auntie to for a suckle when mom isn’t available (the allomother doesn’t provide any nourishment, just comfort).

You can read more about allomothering when my new book, Elephant Talk, comes out next spring. In the meantime, you can keep up with Kulab’s calf here.

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