...And baby Opal makes eleven

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

She's frisky, mischievous and curious, and not at all concerned that she has gained 78 pounds in five weeks. Her name is Opal and she's the newest addition to the 11-member elephant herd at African Lion Safari in northwest Flamborough.

She likes the snow, and just like her mother when she was a baby, she doesn't hesitate to lay down and play in it.

"She's full of energy and spends her days eating, playing and sleeping," elephant handler Mark Matassa says.

The healthy Asian pachyderm tipped the scales at 242 pounds when she was born on November 4. The newborn is the first calf for both 11-year-old Natasha and father, Rex. She is the ninth elephant to be born at the Flamborough game reserve since 1991 and her birth is seen as significant because she is the first-born in the park's second generation of elephants. Her mother was born at the park in 1994.

Opal now weighs 320 pounds and remains on a diet of milk that she gets by nursing from her mother or the oldest member of the herd, 40-year-old Kitty.

"She started drinking a little water a week ago," and she has mimicked other herd members by putting straw in her mouth but she doesn't eat any yet, Matassa reported.

An elephant handler at the park for the past 18 years, Matassa said it was "a real unique experience" to be on hand for Opal's birth as well as her mother's. He said it's rare to have nine elephants born in captivity and African Lion Safari is "number one in North America" for its high rate of successful births. All calves born at the park are still living - with the park maintaining an exceptional 100 per cent live birth rate.

The park chose to concentrate its resources on a breeding program for Asian elephants, rather than the larger African breed, because "the Asian is much more endangered than the African," Matassa explained. It is considered an endangered species because there are less than 40,000 Asian elephants in the world today.

"We have a state-of-the-art research facility here," marketing director Karen O'Grady said. Research continues to improve the breeding program and conserve the Asian elephant for future generations.

Opal's progress during her 22-month gestation was monitored with an ultrasound every other day. Using pioneering technology, 3-D images of the elephant's fetus were taken throughout the pregnancy to gain valuable information that will be used to improve breeding programs. Much of this information will be shared with other conservation organizations throughout the world.

The elephants are a big attraction at the park and having a baby in their midst is sure to draw even bigger crowds when the reserve re-opens to the public in May. In the summer months, they go swimming twice a day, give rides to eager guests and present three shows daily.

African Lion Safari is home to the largest Asian elephant herd of any zoological facility in North America. The park is looking forward to future successes in its breeding program.

...And baby Opal makes eleven

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

She's frisky, mischievous and curious, and not at all concerned that she has gained 78 pounds in five weeks. Her name is Opal and she's the newest addition to the 11-member elephant herd at African Lion Safari in northwest Flamborough.

She likes the snow, and just like her mother when she was a baby, she doesn't hesitate to lay down and play in it.

"She's full of energy and spends her days eating, playing and sleeping," elephant handler Mark Matassa says.

The healthy Asian pachyderm tipped the scales at 242 pounds when she was born on November 4. The newborn is the first calf for both 11-year-old Natasha and father, Rex. She is the ninth elephant to be born at the Flamborough game reserve since 1991 and her birth is seen as significant because she is the first-born in the park's second generation of elephants. Her mother was born at the park in 1994.

Opal now weighs 320 pounds and remains on a diet of milk that she gets by nursing from her mother or the oldest member of the herd, 40-year-old Kitty.

"She started drinking a little water a week ago," and she has mimicked other herd members by putting straw in her mouth but she doesn't eat any yet, Matassa reported.

An elephant handler at the park for the past 18 years, Matassa said it was "a real unique experience" to be on hand for Opal's birth as well as her mother's. He said it's rare to have nine elephants born in captivity and African Lion Safari is "number one in North America" for its high rate of successful births. All calves born at the park are still living - with the park maintaining an exceptional 100 per cent live birth rate.

The park chose to concentrate its resources on a breeding program for Asian elephants, rather than the larger African breed, because "the Asian is much more endangered than the African," Matassa explained. It is considered an endangered species because there are less than 40,000 Asian elephants in the world today.

"We have a state-of-the-art research facility here," marketing director Karen O'Grady said. Research continues to improve the breeding program and conserve the Asian elephant for future generations.

Opal's progress during her 22-month gestation was monitored with an ultrasound every other day. Using pioneering technology, 3-D images of the elephant's fetus were taken throughout the pregnancy to gain valuable information that will be used to improve breeding programs. Much of this information will be shared with other conservation organizations throughout the world.

The elephants are a big attraction at the park and having a baby in their midst is sure to draw even bigger crowds when the reserve re-opens to the public in May. In the summer months, they go swimming twice a day, give rides to eager guests and present three shows daily.

African Lion Safari is home to the largest Asian elephant herd of any zoological facility in North America. The park is looking forward to future successes in its breeding program.

...And baby Opal makes eleven

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

She's frisky, mischievous and curious, and not at all concerned that she has gained 78 pounds in five weeks. Her name is Opal and she's the newest addition to the 11-member elephant herd at African Lion Safari in northwest Flamborough.

She likes the snow, and just like her mother when she was a baby, she doesn't hesitate to lay down and play in it.

"She's full of energy and spends her days eating, playing and sleeping," elephant handler Mark Matassa says.

The healthy Asian pachyderm tipped the scales at 242 pounds when she was born on November 4. The newborn is the first calf for both 11-year-old Natasha and father, Rex. She is the ninth elephant to be born at the Flamborough game reserve since 1991 and her birth is seen as significant because she is the first-born in the park's second generation of elephants. Her mother was born at the park in 1994.

Opal now weighs 320 pounds and remains on a diet of milk that she gets by nursing from her mother or the oldest member of the herd, 40-year-old Kitty.

"She started drinking a little water a week ago," and she has mimicked other herd members by putting straw in her mouth but she doesn't eat any yet, Matassa reported.

An elephant handler at the park for the past 18 years, Matassa said it was "a real unique experience" to be on hand for Opal's birth as well as her mother's. He said it's rare to have nine elephants born in captivity and African Lion Safari is "number one in North America" for its high rate of successful births. All calves born at the park are still living - with the park maintaining an exceptional 100 per cent live birth rate.

The park chose to concentrate its resources on a breeding program for Asian elephants, rather than the larger African breed, because "the Asian is much more endangered than the African," Matassa explained. It is considered an endangered species because there are less than 40,000 Asian elephants in the world today.

"We have a state-of-the-art research facility here," marketing director Karen O'Grady said. Research continues to improve the breeding program and conserve the Asian elephant for future generations.

Opal's progress during her 22-month gestation was monitored with an ultrasound every other day. Using pioneering technology, 3-D images of the elephant's fetus were taken throughout the pregnancy to gain valuable information that will be used to improve breeding programs. Much of this information will be shared with other conservation organizations throughout the world.

The elephants are a big attraction at the park and having a baby in their midst is sure to draw even bigger crowds when the reserve re-opens to the public in May. In the summer months, they go swimming twice a day, give rides to eager guests and present three shows daily.

African Lion Safari is home to the largest Asian elephant herd of any zoological facility in North America. The park is looking forward to future successes in its breeding program.