Stella, Animal Kingdom’s newest addition, took her first steps around the savanna at Kilimanjaro Wednesday.
This is the third calf for 28-year-old Donna. Stella and her mother spent a short time backstage where Stella began nursing and bonding before joining the other elephants in her family. Stella is the sister of Nadirah, who was born in 2005, and Luna in 2010.
Donna became pregnant through natural breeding in January 2015 and received prenatal care throughout her pregnancy. In addition to regular ultrasounds, veterinarians, scientists and elephant managers monitored Donna’s daily hormones to help determine when she would give birth.
Stella raises the number of elephants at Animal Kingdom to 10, including three males and six females. Animal Kingdom scientists study the behavior and vocalizations of the herd’s elephants in their quest to learn how they communicate.
“We have used this knowledge to work with Save the Elephants on the Elephants and Bees Project to fund the development and installation of beehive fences around farms in Kenya, which not only protect the farmers and their crops from elephants, but also help protect the elephants from the farmers,” wrote Mark Penning, vice president of Animals, Science and Environment in his Disney blog.
The Elephants and Bees Project reduces damage from crop-raiding elephants using their instinctive avoidance of African honey bees. The project uses beehive fences as a natural elephant deterrent creating a social and economic boost to poverty-stricken rural communities through pollination services and the sustainable harvesting of honey.
Video courtesy Disney Parks Blog: