Knysna Elephant Park - Shungu

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Information about Knysna Elephant Park - Shungu

Published on September 7, 2007

Author: guestee03a1



To the delight of the crew at Knysna Elephant Park, baby Shungu entered the world at 5am on January 1. ‘Shungu’, the Shona word for patience, was the name suggested by Stenford Motau - trainer and handler of Shungu's mother, Thembile, during her final months of pregnancy.
While Shungu kept all at Knysna Elephant Park guessing as to Thembile's conception date, there has been nothing patient about the new arrival since his arrival. He soon latched onto his mother, drinking well before the usual time and within ten hours of being around, he challenged Stenford in a mock charge - much to everyone's delight.
According to the Park’s Lisette Withers, the gestation period of elephants is about 22 months - “but one does not have the luxury of scans and other methods of due date prediction with elephant,” she says.
The first signs of pregnancy show by the swelling of the mother's mammary glands, situated just behind (almost between) her front legs. “That's when the guessing begins,” explains Lisette. “In Thembile's case, she also became a little moody. That is when we placed her in Stenford’s special care, separate from the rest of the herd but sharing sleeping quarters at night.
“This is the second birth experienced at Knysna Elephant Park, the first being Thandi (born to Nandi on October 16, 2004). Of particular importance to us is the fact that our ellies are comfortable within this environment to carry on with their social habits and ways of life.”
Shungu's arrival was heralded with much trumpeting and fanfare from the other ellies in their stables.
“The birth went smoothly and Thembile was extremely relaxed. We had to help the little one latch for the first time and thereafter it was plain sailing. We kept her apart from the others for the first day but on day two, mum and baby were allowed to mingle with the other females.
“Thembile and Shungu will slowly be introduced to the group and within a short while, will join them full time. Shungu will then be free to play with his step-sisters Keisha, 3, and Thandi, 2, who currently enjoy the run of the Park.”
Shungu will feed from his mother for about three years and Thembile will start teaching him to eat solids from about nine months old.
Knysna Elephant Park opened to the public in 1994 with Harry and Sally being the first two Kruger Park orphans to establish their new home here. Since then the Park has had a number of orphans finding solace in its surrounds and has provided entertainment to many learners and visitors from all over the world.

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