An Asian elephant calf born three months after its due date has been named Anjan by zookeepers.
The male calf, now two weeks old, “astonished” experts when he was born to mum Thi Hi Way at Chester Zoo last month following an assumed gestation of 25 months.
Scientists believed Thi, who was already a great-grandmother and matriarch of the herd, had lost the calf as the usual gestation period for an Asian elephant is around 22 months.
But, despite the unusual circumstances, Thi gave birth to the healthy baby boy and zoo staff say both mother and calf are doing incredibly well.
Asian elephants are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, threatened by habitat loss, poaching, disease and direct conflict with humans.
Conservationists from Chester Zoo have been working to combat these threats in the elephant’s native India for more than 12 years, utilising the skills and knowledge developed working with the herd in Chester.
Zookeepers chose the name Anjan in honour of Anjan Nath, one of the leading conservation figures the zoo works with on a project in Assam, northern India, which has successfully eliminated conflict between local communities and the nearby Asian elephant population, offering a blueprint for the future conservation of the species.