Adorable pictures show newborn elephants having a mudbath at Chester Zoo, nearly a year after the herd welcomed its newest member.
On Thursday, the calves were observed playing, rolling in the dirt, and splashing about.
In January, 20-year-old mum Sithami Hi Way gave birth to a male calf at the zoo, making him the newest herd member.
He was born just one month after the birth of Indali Hi Way, and a year after the birth of Nandita Hi Way, his half-sister.
In a statement issued at the time, the zoo said: ‘Two births in one month is significant for our Hi Way family of Asian elephants. Elephants are social animals, so this is a significant boost to the group.
‘Mum Sithami gently placed her calf on the ground and began to stimulate him, kicking up the sand around him to get him to his feet.
“The rest of the herd then gathered around and, within minutes, assisted him up, which was fantastic to see.
The zoo is part of a breeding program coordinated by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) focused on sustaining the elephant population in Europe.
Time for some fun! One of the baby elephants tackles another to the ground as they roll in the mud at Chester Zoo
Asian elephants are considerably smaller than their African counterparts, but their largest terrestrial land animals are the continent’s largest.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, more than 100,000 Asian elephants were thought to exist, but their numbers have decreased by more than half in the last a hundred years.
Face-off: The decreasing elephant population is partly due to habitat loss, as human activity continues to ravage the ancient rainforests.
Two by two: As Asia’s population continues to grow, more and more pressure is put on converting elephant habitats into farmland.
What a Dumbo! P.oa.ching is also a severe problem, and elephants are frequently ki.lle.d for their tusks or skins.
Elephants bathe in mud to keep their skin cool and protect them from parasites and the heat of the sun’s UV rays.
Charge! The zoo is part of a European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) breeding program that seeks to maintain the elephant population in Europe.
The newborn calf was described by the zoo as “an exciting new addition to the breeding program for an endangered species.”
Take that! Speaking after the birth of the calf in January, Dr. Mark Pilgrim, chief executive officer, said: ‘We hope that news of her arrival will generate more much-needed awareness of these incredible animals and the pressures for survival that they are faced with in the wild’
In the wild, Asian elephants are on the verge of extinction, and Chester Zoo conservationists in India are combatting human-wildlife conflicts to safeguard the species.
Mud buddies: Asian elephants are an endangered species, threatened by habitat loss, poaching, disease, and direct conflict with humans
Play with me! Many elephants are also captured in the wild and used in the tourism industry
Elephants are highly sociable animals, as demonstrated by these two calves playing
That’s a filthy habit! For over ten years, the zoo has been working in Assam, India, to help elephants and humans live alongside one another safely