Zoo Watch: Female elephants set to remember this spring after mammoth matchmaking at Whipsnade

ZSL Whipsnade Asian elephants are finding a way to pass the time amid the Coronavirus shutdown. Pict

ZSL Whipsnade Asian elephants are finding a way to pass the time amid the Coronavirus shutdown. Picture: ZSL Whipsnade - Credit: Archant

A male elephant at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo seems to be getting on well with the ladies this spring.

The 12-year-old Asian bull elephant, Ming Jung, was recently introduced to the females for the first time since arriving at Whipsnade Zoo last year, and the mammoth matchmaking appears to have been a success.

Ming Jung moved to the zoo from Antwerp as part of the European Endangered Species Programme, where an expert coordinates the breeding programme for an entire species to ensure a healthy and diverse population is protected in zoos.

Classified as endangered and with numbers in decline, a birth would be a celebration for the whole species – and Ming Jung has clearly taken his role very seriously.

ZSL animal operations manager Matthew Webb said: “We’re absolutely delighted that the introductions between Ming Jung and our girls has been so positive – we just didn’t realise how well they would go!

“Animal introductions are something we carefully manage to ensure they are all content and ready – the elephants meet over fences first and we observe their behaviour. The girls seemed really receptive to Ming Jung, and he is quite obviously smitten with them!”

Matthew added: “Ming Jung is a genetically important animal for the future of the species– he represents a new lineage. We work really closely with the elephants and know their personality traits and quirks – so we’ll watch those for any signs, and in six weeks a scan should tell us if we can expect a new arrival in 22 months!”

Most Read

While closed to the public, the UK’s largest zoo, run by international conservation charity ZSL, is appealing to supporters and animal lovers to help care for the thousands of animals who call the zoo home throughout the closure.

Donate by visiting zsl.org/support-our-zoos