Birth statistics for African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants in human care: history and implications for elephant welfare

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Robert H. I. Dale
Zoo Biology
A Wiley Company, Inc., Wiley Subscription Services
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Abstract 10.1002/zoo.20234.abs African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) have lived in the care of humans for many years, yet there is no consensus concerning some basic parameters describing their newborn calves. This study provides a broad empirical basis for generalizations about the birth heights, birth weights, birth times and gestation periods of elephant calves born in captivity. I obtained data concerning at least one of these four characteristics for 218 newborn calves from 74 institutions. Over the past 30 years, newborn Asian elephants have been taller and heavier than newborn African elephants. Neonatal African elephants exhibited sex differences in both weight and height, whereas neonatal Asian elephants have exhibited sex differences only in height. Primiparous dams ex situ are at least as old as their in situ counterparts, whereas ex situ sires appear to be younger than sires in range countries. Confirming earlier anecdotal evidence, both African [N=47] and Asian [N=91] dams gave birth most often at night. Zoo Biol 29:87–103, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


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