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Elephant baby boom in San Diego

Times Staff Writer

While the Los Angeles Zoo is transferring its lone African elephant to a sanctuary, the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park is undergoing an elephant population boom.

On Sunday, Litsemba, a 17-year-old African elephant, gave birth to a healthy male weighing between 250 and 300 pounds. Mother and calf are visible on the elephant cam on the park’s website, www.wildanimalpark.org.

Two other African elephants at the park -- Umoya and Lungile -- are pregnant and due later this year, officials said. The father in all three cases is Mabhulane.

With the arrival of the unnamed calf, the Wild Animal Park has 10 African elephants and six Asian elephants. The zoo has two Asian elephants and one African elephant.

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Litsemba is one of seven African elephants brought to the Wild Animal Park in August 2003 from Swaziland amid a plan by national park officials there to kill some elephants because of overpopulation.

Jeff Andrews, the Wild Animal Park’s animal care manager, attributed the pregnancies to “positive operant conditioning,” including encouraging Mabhulane to seek out the females at the opportune time. An elephant pregnancy lasts about 21 months.

tony.perry@latimes.com


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