Name the Elephant Calf!

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The calf born in April to Swazi has been given a name courtesy of one of our donors: eMacembe La Lu Hlata; keepers call him Macembe (ma KEM bay). Now, after naming seven elephants born at the Wild Animal Park over the past six years, we’re out of ideas! Well, maybe not, but we still want you to suggest names for our youngest African elephant. Our blog readers have been kind enough to help us find very suitable names for Yun Zi, our youngest giant panda, and Zoli, a silvered leaf langur, but now you’ve reached the big time!

We like to think that these naming opportunities have given you an occasion to learn more about species like pandas and langurs. Now it’s time to study up on pachyderm biology, because from July 13 to 25, you’ll have a chance to submit your suggestions via the Zoo’s Web site. Remember: the suggestions should relate symbolically to the calf or elephant conservation. Open up the science books, read through our Animal Bytes elephant page, visit the little guy at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, and get inspired.

Keep in mind that we will continue the tradition of translating the name into SiSwati, the language of the Kingdom of Swaziland where the calf’s mother and father were rescued. We’re not going to ask you to submit it in siSwati (we’ll do that for you), but if you can—well, bonus points for you!

Here are a few tidbits about the kid: Born May 12, 2010, he is strong, playful, loves the water, and enjoys spending time with the other boys, including his papa, Mabu.

The best way to really get your creativity flowing is to visit the youngster. Now is a great time to do so, because during the African Summer Festival at the Wild Animal Park we have a special treat for the elephants at 11 a.m. daily: Elephant Rush! Come out to watch the elephants eagerly head out into the exhibit to enjoy the snacks, search for treats, and play with items—and each other! It is easy to confuse the three calves born this year, in February, April, and May respectively, but a staff member is on hand at 11 a.m. to talk with guests about what’s happening and answer questions.

Still need more help? Read the latest blog (Elephants: Umoya’s Calf) written by Curtis Lehman, the animal care supervisor who looks after the elephants, to learn more about the calf’s personality. You can also check out the Meet the Elephants page on our Web site. Here you’ll find the names of the rest of the herd and what they mean. For example, the newest calf’s mother’s name, Umoya, means “spirit” because of her extraordinary personality. In 2004, Vus’musi was named by the King of Swaziland. Since he was the first calf born at the Wild Animal Park, the king chose a name that means “to build a family.”

So get to it. Submit your ideas July 12 to 25. In August, we’ll post our favorite names for an online vote. The name with the most votes will be announced at the Park at 11 a.m. on Thursday, August 26.

Yadira Galindo is a senior public relations representative for the San Diego Zoo.