Born: August 4, 2000
Weight: 6,598 lbs. as of March 2010
Country of Origin: USA
Parents: Ivory and a bull elephant in Florida
Ajani moved to the Birmingham Zoo in early 2011 to become a vital part of
their newly-formed bachelor herd. We were sad to see him go, but the
timing was excellent. He was just at the age when females in the herd
would have chased him off naturally as part of the matriarchal herd
dynamics. At his new now, Ajani lives in the Trails of Africa, a
mixed-species exhibit featuring a bachelor elephant herd, red river
hogs, rhinos, and much more. Trails of Africa also includes ground and
aerial observation opportunities providing education and entertainment to
hundreds of thousands of visitors who can enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience.
We wish them only the best, and we know Ajani is helping to spread the word
on animal conservation!
Just one more exciting event
during the very prolific summer of 2000 at the Indianapolis Zoo, the birth
of Ajani was celebrated throughout the city of Indianapolis. Born to
Ivory at 7am on Friday, August 4, the 252-pound male calf was the world’s
second African elephant conceived and born through artificial insemination
(AI). After a 22 month gestation, Ivory was in labor for an incredibly
short 30 minutes. With the help of elephant staff, the calf was up and
walking within a half-hour of birth.
Ivory was artificially
inseminated in late October 1998. A bull housed at a facility in
Florida provided the semen used in the process. This method has been
extensively researched, and the Indianapolis Zoo is proud to have played
such a major role in the advancement of the technology and knowledge
surrounding this new conservation technique.
Ajani’s birth was significant
in another way. He became only the 13th male elephant in human care in
the United States. Due to their larger size and occasional behavioral
changes, especially during the breeding season, most zoos keep all-female
herds of elephants. In the wild, male elephants will usually leave their
herd during their teen years (elephants can live to be over 60 years of age)
and either form small bachelor groups or live by themselves. For this
reason, it was a challenge and a wonderful learning experience for the
Zoo staff to raise a male elephant.
Ajani, a Nigerian name that
means “he who wins the struggle,” was so named because his first few weeks
of life proved a test for elephant and keepers alike. In addition to
his rapid arrival, staff experienced difficulty in getting Ivory used to her
new baby. She was awkward around her calf at times, which is not
uncommon, and staff had to work hard to make sure Ajani stayed healthy.
Around-the-clock supervision, in addition to training sessions with Ivory to
help her become more comfortable with her calf, proved the commitment of our
dedicated staff to assuring that the new elephant survived. After this
initial period of uncertainty, Ivory seemed to warm up to her baby, and her
maternal instincts kicked in. Subsequently, she and Ajani bonded
Active and curious, Ajani grew into a wonderful elephant. He responds to the trainers very
well and enjoys company, both elephant and human.
Ajani’s birth brings us great
hope and optimism for the future survival of this magnificent species.
Through research, education, and experience, the conservation of African
elephants is in our hands. Ajani is just one more chapter in a story
that will, with our work efforts and dedication, end happily. With
help from our partners at the Institute for Zoo Biology and Wildlife
Research (IZW) of Berlin, Germany, whose staff perfected the artificial
insemination technique that was used to achieve the conceptions of both of
our mother elephants, the Indianapolis Zoo will continue to work toward
saving these beautiful animals.