The next time you visit the Wild Animal Park, make sure to head to the Elephant Overlook first thing in the morning. Chances are you will hear a whole lot of trumpeting going on. You may be wondering who is making such a racket so early in the morning? Well, it is our very own African elephant calf, Ingadze. At 5.5 months of age, he is testing out his vocal chords and making sure everyone knows he is here! He is growing up fast and learning how to talk the talk and walk the walk of an African elephant.
In the morning when the keepers are busy cleaning and setting up the yards, Ingadze can be seen running back and forth along the fence line and heard trumpeting as if he is trying to get the keepers’ attention. Well, that tactic usually works! The keepers will run along the fence line mimicking Ingadze, and boy, does he seem to love all of the attention. He will flare his ears, spin around, and kick out his feet. He has also started working on his “whirly bird” or “helicopter” trunk technique. Sometimes he gets so fired up that he ends up tripping over his own feet.
Just recently, Ingadze has started eating solid food. During training sessions, when mom Umngani and big sister Khosi, are being fed alfalfa pellets, Ingadze gets right in there with them. He often times will stick his trunk in Umngani’s mouth or Khosi’s mouth to see what they are eating. His keepers have started offering him alfalfa pellets as well as various types of browse, which he eagerly takes and puts into his mouth. When the keepers are tossing out alfalfa pellets into the yard, Ingadze can be seen following the pellet trail and picking them up to eat, just like the rest of the herd.
At 256 kilograms (563 pounds!), Ingadze is growing up fast. So, make sure and stop by the next time you visit the Wild Animal Park. Chances are, spending a bit of time at the Elephant Overlook to watch Ingadze and the rest of his family will put a smile on your face!
Heather Rogers is a keeper at the Wild Animal Park.