Visiting the Dallas Zoo to see baby Ajabu

NOTE: I made some corrections to this blog after my 10-16-16 trip to the zoo.   Baby Ajabu was out, so see my Flickr gallery for photos until I am able to write  another blog

Today I decided to go to the Dallas zoo to see the new elephant baby, Ajabu.   Ajabu is five months old and yesterday (10-12-16) was the first day he was introduced to the public.  He is a baby who was born from one of the Swaziland elephants that came to the Dallas Zoo. When the elephants came to the zoo nobody knew that Mlilo, Ajabu’s mother, was pregnant.

So, the Dallas Zoo rescued some elephants that came from Swaziland, which is in a severe drought where there was not enough food and water for the elephants.  It was a very controversial move, they moved 18 elephants from Swaziland to the U.S. and they were divided up into three zoos, one in Dallas, one in Nebraska and the other was in Kansas.  Animal activists were not happy about it, but I feel that if they left the elephants there, they would have died, and baby Ajabu would not have been born or would not have survived since he was premature and his living conditions over there would have kept his weight down.    The zoos that they selected for these elephants are all set up to allow them to live like they would in their natural habitats.   Some animal activists do not agree with that, but without this move, they just would no have survived.

Today (10-13-16) I was excited to finally be able to go see little baby Ajabu.   When I got there I was a little disappointed that baby Ajabu (pronounced. a-JAH-bu) wasn’t out. They had a leak in a pipe and workers had to fix it (you can see the worker in the yard, in the photo below). The leak was in the baby-proofed yard that Ajabu goes in with his mom Mlilo and another one of the African elephants from Swaziland, I think it’s  Amahle (if not Amahle, then it’s Zola).  It seems that the third elephant is very gentle so they are able to keep her with them so that they have a small family herd. They are very slowly integrating all of the elephants together, but it will take time, and will be on elephant time.

(NOTE:   I talked with a zookeeper yesterday and they have not yet allowed another elephant in with Mlilo and her baby Ajabu.  They probably will in the future, but they’re not ready for that yet.  I got the info from a volunteer when I wrote this, but I may have misunderstood it.)

Over the past 5 months they have been babyproofing one of the public yards (they have two) so that Ajabu can go out there safely and not get hurt. He was born premature and they think that he will be on the small side even when he grows up because of the conditions that his mom lived in for 2 years in Swaziland.

CORRECTION: While talking yesterday with the zookeeper, I found out that Ajabu has gained weight and he is 330 lbs. as of 10-16-16.     Also, he also was not born premature, he was just underweight because of the living conditions and lack of food in Swaziland.   But now he is a very healthy little elephant calf.

This is the baby proofed yard and a worker fixing the leaky pipe:

You can see how they tied up a barrier so that the baby can’t get into the water and drown because he is so small. They also covered up a lot of little holes so that he can’t get stuck in them. For now, this smaller yard will only be for Mlilo, Amahle (or Zola) and the baby.

Then I went over to the bigger yard and was talking to the zoo volunteers, and at 11am, the zookeeper came out to talk with whoever was there, they do this every day at specified times.

People were disappointed that Ajabu wasn’t out.  One mom, with a baby in a stroller and a little boy, walked up and said “well this was a wasted trip”, and her little boy said, “it’s not a waste, we will have fun anyway”. The mom responded back with “Yes, I made a bad choice of words”.   Another small family had the same exact reaction with different words. I understand the parents, but how great is it that the kids knew enough to make the best of it!

I was a bit disappointed too, but it was still such a great day and I’m so happy that I went.  I probably found out more about the Dallas Zoo elephants than I would have if he was there, and it’s more important for the baby to be safe and happy than to be out pleasing the public.

So in the bigger yard, there was Jenny, she’s the matriarch and the biggest elephant. She’s one of the 4 Golden Girls that have been there before the Swaziland elephants came.

This is Jenny


Then there was Gypsy.  Gypsy has no tail, so she is easy to identify.


And then there’s is Nolwazi, one of the Swaziland elephants. I’m not sure why, but Nolwazi has a lot of big back lumps on her.

CORRECTION: I showed this photo to the zookeeper yesterday (10-16) and she said that there are only 2 lumps on Nolwazi’s back, which is normal for all African elephants.  The other 3 that seem to appear in this photo are her ears and a lump of mud.


Gypsy weighs 8000 pounds and is 37 years old. Jenny is 9 and a hefty 10,000 pounds. Nolwazi is 10-15 years old, I’m not sure of her weight, but she is gaining weight now that she’s here and has food.
The Swaziland elephants were not part of the same herd, so they did not know each other, although, they suspect that Amahli may possibly be Mlilo’s mother (I think, or is it Zola and Amahli?  I’ll find out more in my upcoming trips).

CORRECTION: Nolwazi is Amahli’s mother

When they came over to the U.S. they were all isolated in their own yards to get used to their new home. They didn’t want to put them together because they did not know how they would be with each other. They would let them get used to each other through barriers and very slowly integrate the  Swaziland elephants and the golden girls together.  Mlilo stayed on her own longer than the rest so that she could take care of her baby.

The Swaziland elephants seem to have some trauma for having to have lived with foraging for food. They tend to take food and hide it, with Zola (I think it was Zola) being the worst with that. She would take it and hide it and if one of the other elephants went near it, she would be somewhat aggressive towards them, not in a hurting way, but she was protective of her food.  It will take them some time to realize that they are safe now and they have food. They don’t have to hide it anymore.

They have one bull from Swaziland, his name is Tendaji. I’m not sure if they have introduced him to the golden girls or the Swaziland elephants yet.

When the elephants came, the zoo suspected that Mlilo was pregnant, but all of their tests turned out negative, and then on May 14, the little baby arrived. He was underweight at only 175 Lbs… the normal weight is between 225 and 300 for babies (or around there).
So overall, even though I didn’t get to see little Ajabu, it was really such a great and informative visit and I’m happy that I went. I will now have to divide my zoo trips between the Fort Worth Zoo and the Dallas Zoo.

I am including a few more photos of my morning at the Dallas Zoo.  I don’t  know the names of most of the different animals there the way I do at the Fort Worth Zoo, but in time, I will.

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Soon I will be able to post some photos of baby Ajabu with his mom.    I hope you enjoy looking at the photos of the animals.    All of what I wrote here, is from what I remember and wrote down from my conversations with the zoo volunteers and the zookeeper.

Thanks for reading my blog… until the next time



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