Baby Elephant Acts with Energy, Gets Name at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Escondido, California - Today, San Diego Zoo Safari Park keepers announced the name of a female African elephant calf born on August 28.

The calf's name is Qinisa, a Siswati word that means to act with energy, act determinedly, fulfill one's word, or speak the truth.

The name is very fitting, as the calf seems determined (successfully) to be developing faster than any of the 12 calves born to the Safari Park's elephant herd. At only 1-week-old, Qinisa was sucking water into her trunk and using it to pick up objects like sticks. This dexterity has not been seen at such a young age, according to Curtis Lehman, San Diego Zoo Safari Park animal care manager. This skill had been documented after a couple of weeks of age among the other calves.
Qinisa also seems to be spending the least amount of time nursing but appears to be getting more than enough milk from her mother, Swazi. Lehman thinks Qinisa may have also mastered how to nurse quickly, since she is averaging a weight gain of 1 kilogram per day. The calf has gained 40 pounds in her first 21 days of life.

The family can be seen daily at the Safari Park's elephant habitat or via Elephant Cam on the Park's web site or Safari Park iPhone app.

The Safari Park is now home to 13 elephants - 4 adults and 9 youngsters. The adults were rescued in 2003 from the Kingdom of Swaziland, where they faced being culled. A lack of space and long periods of drought created unsuitable habitat for a large elephant population in the small southern African country. Swaziland's Big Game Parks officials felt they had two options: kill this group of elephants or export them to a zoo willing to care for the pachyderms.

At the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, elephant studies are underway on nutrition, daily walking distance, growth and development and bioacoustic communication. In Africa, a San Diego Zoo Global scientist is studying human-elephant conflicts as well as habitat range and use. In 2004, the nonprofit organization committed to contributing $30,000 yearly to Swaziland's Big Game Parks through 2014 to fund programs like anti-poaching patrols, improved infrastructure and the purchase of additional acreage for the Big Game Parks. In addition, San Diego Zoo Global supports other elephant conservation measures through donations to the International Elephant Foundation, an organization that funds elephant conservation projects around the world.

The San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy is dedicated to bringing endangered species back from the brink of extinction. The work of the Conservancy includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, and international field programs in more than 35 countries. In addition, San Diego Zoo Global manages the Anne and Kenneth Griffin Reptile Conservation Center, the Frozen ZooTM and Native Seed Gene Bank, the Keauhou and Maui Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Centers, San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike Breeding Facility, Cocha Cashu Biological Research Station, the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, and a 800-acre biodiversity reserve adjacent to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.

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