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Zoo Biology

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We used four surveys to collect information about the birth, physical growth, and behavioral development of 12 African elephant calves born in captivity. The management of the birth process and neonatal care involved a variety of standard procedures. All of the calves were born at night, between 7PM and 7AM. The calves showed a systematic progression in behavioral and physical development, attaining developmental milestones at least a quickly as calves in situ. This study emphasized birth-related events, changes in the ways that calves used their trunks, first instances of behaviors, and interactions of the calves with other, usually adult, elephants. Several behaviors, such as the dam covering her calf with hay and the calf sucking its own trunk, were common in the captive situation and have been observed in situ. Overall, the behaviors of the calves resembled those observed for African elephant calves in situ. These data should help in the management of African elephants under human care by providing systematic reference values for the birth and development of elephant calves.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article:

Kowalski NL, Dale RHI, & Mazur CLH. (2010). A survey of the management and development of captive African elephant (Loxodonta africana) calves: birth to three months of age. Zoo Biology. 29(2), 104-119. doi: 10.1002/zoo.20195

which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving'.