The first baby elephant to be born in Portugal is now one of the major attractions at Lisbon’s Zoological Park. Weighing in at 90kgs, the male elephant was born on New Year’s Day and is already wowing the crowds. The recent arrival, who now weighs 100kgs, cries and wails like any other baby and has become a source of pride and joy to zookeeper Manuel Correia: “I was so overcome with emotion when he was born; it was almost like the birth of one of my own children. The birth was so fast. It was all over within 10 minutes and then we all celebrated,” he said. The baby still does not have a name; Correia has suggested ‘Euro 2004’ or ‘Rock in Rio’ and the zoo is launching a competition to come up with suggestions.
The zookeeper is particularly happy as another baby elephant was born last year, but the baby only survived a few hours, having been rejected by its mother for an unknown reason. The zoo’s latest arrival has a long way to go before he is fully grown. The African elephant is the biggest land animal in the world, measuring between 2.2 and 3.7 metres high and weighing 7,500 kilos when it reaches full maturity at between 8 and 12 years old.Pregnancies last 22 months and babies are breast-fed for two years. When he becomes an adult, he will consume around 200 litres of water and between 150 and 300kgs of food a day.