Mintra blesses us with a baby boy – welcome Yin Dee!!!!
The new baby elephant, Yin Dee
Rumbles, roars and chirps erupted at around 12:15 a.m. on August 25th breaking the midnight silence, announcing the arrival of a new born calf. Stirred to consciousness by the vocalizations, bleary eyed ENP staff sprung from their beds. Grabbing flashlights and cameras, they rushed to the elephant shelters to catch a glimpse of the newest member of our herd.
Lovely, lively, vocal Mintra had given birth to a baby boy. At first glance he looked all legs, which splayed wide as he tried to figure out what to do with them. Within a 30 minutes he took his first wobbly steps. He was named Yin Dee, which means “pleasure.”
Two days previous, it was evident that Mintra would go into labor soon. She was acting as if she felt uncomfortable, milk was flowing from her breasts and she was roaring all day long. Malai Tong had become very attentive to Mintra, spending more time with her than Mae Jarunee and repeatedly touching Mintra’s breasts and vulva.
At around 4 p.m., Mintra chose to go visit the 13-year-old bull, Hope. She seemed to calm down and backed up to him softly chirping. Her best friend, Mae Jampaa, who is usually wary of the bulls, stayed on the sidelines at first. Soon her concern and desire to be close to Mintra overrode her fear and she backed up to Hope as well. Hope calmly sniffed the ladies, trunk draped a bit on Mae Jampaa after which they all seemed to lose interest. Mintra and Jampaa were led to their shelter.
The story of Mintra
Mintra is around 18-years-old. She has been with us just over four years. Before her arrival, Mintra spent most of her life on the streets of Bangkok, plying her sad trade as a beggar. We were told that she was hit by a vehicle when she was four. She has two dislocated hips as a result. Because of this accident, mahouts never rode Mintra and she has no hook scars on her forehead –but she has a more disturbing scar — a missing nipple. Her previous owner told Lek that this injury occurred during her initial training when she was bound tightly with ropes, forcing her to submit. She struggled against the ropes and her nipple was pinched so tightly, the end was torn off.
Despite such sad beginnings, Mintra has a very ‘happy-go-lucky’ attitude. She is an extremely social elephant who wasted no time getting right in to the thick of the ENP soap opera. Immediately upon arrival, everybody wanted her to join their group! She spent her first week in the park rushing around roaring with excitement and holding contests to see who responded to her calls the quickest.
Once settled in, Mintra showed us yet another facet of her personality — her flirty side.
She sought out the attention of both Hope and Jungle Boy, initiating interaction. From the start, she seemed to be particularly interested in the younger of the two bulls. At that time, the boys were too young to impregnate a female, their fumbling acts innocent, yet determined practice. With her dislocated hips and missing nipple, we had often wondered whether Mintra would have complications giving birth or nursing, and if she even ovulated at all.
The cold season from November 2011 to February 2012 was a very active period for our herd. Undetected by our weak sense of smell, the scent of ele-pheromones was heavy in the air, creating an amorous vibe. Reproduction was never encouraged, but there were occasions when both Mintra and her boy of the moment were in the mood. When desire is mutual between two free roaming elephants, not much can be done to discourage their actions.
Interestingly, we were not the only ones concerned about Mintra’s increased infatuation in the males.
Both Mae Dta Keow and Mae Jampaa seemed to feel anxious about the males interest in their young friend. They tried to divert the boys at all costs, even going so far as to offer themselves as an alternative to the irresistible smelling Mintra. In the end their efforts were in vain … despite all of their attempts at diversion, Mintra became pregnant.
And thankfully, though all of our worries were warranted, Mintra had an uneventful pregnancy, a smooth birth and the milk flows freely from the milk ducts of the damaged breast!
On the morning of the 26th, Dok Mai’s family rushed over as soon as they were released from their shelters to say hello to the new calf. As usual, it was an exciting affair with much squeaking, rumbling and outstretched trunks as Mintra proudly showed off her baby. Mae Jampaa and ultra auntie Malai Tong were already stationed in the space next to Mintra so that they could be as close as possible.
It took about 24 hours before Mintra and Yin Dee got synchronized. Mintra has a deep body and shorter legs. Yin Dee was just a bit too tall to get under her easily. At first, Mintra was not moving her fore legs forward to allow her calf to drink. Yin Dee was desperate to suckle and latched onto anything he could get his mouth on. The nipple-less breast was swollen with milk. When Mintra did allow access to that breast, Yin Dee had quite a hard time figuring out how to latch on. He kept trying to access his milk supply by facing Mintra and groping in between her legs. For the first few days we observed closely and gently guided him to the right position. Mintra started moving her leg forward to make nursing easier and in no time Yin Dee became more adept at finding the breasts.
Now at three-weeks-old, Yin Dee is becoming more playful, vocal and confident with each passing day. Mae Jampaa is patiently waiting for the moment when she will be officially introduced and begin her role as auntie. Malai Tong is also spending a good part of each day loitering around, always ready to love and help tend to any baby available. It is too early to predict who will become the Yin Dee groupies, though Mintra is friendly with most anybody, crotchety Mae Jampaa may not be so accepting. We can only hope that little Yin Dee will bring out the softer side in Jampaa and that she will come to learn that when it comes to rearing a calf, there is safety and security in numbers … and always enough love to go around.