Not only was she born on Tucson’s birthday, August 20, 2014, but she was the first elephant born in Arizona, right at Tucson’s Reid Park Zoo.
Not only was she born on Tucson’s birthday,August 20, 2014, but she was the first elephant born in Arizona, right at Tucson’s Reid Park Zoo.
"The city of Tucson really kind of adopted her as their own,” Lead Elephant Professional, Savannah Beck said.
Now, nearly five years later, KOLD News 13 decided to check in on her and see how she’s doing ahead of her big five!
After talking to zoo keepers, specialists say she is hitting all her landmarks for learning.
"We are constantly keeping up with her training, making sure she hits all the landmarks as well; she has either met or exceeded those markers,” said Beck.
Beck said elephants are among the top three smartest animals in the animal kingdom, with the learning ability of a four to five-year-old child.
They work with Nandi on her training so that she can actively participate as they take care of her. Although, the training might just look like “cute tricks” to those watching, it goes beyond that.
Beck gave an example. "If they see us asking for a foot, it’s likely so we can file her foot, " said Beck. All these behaviors help the trainers in her care.
Nandi has exceeded the expectations her care team has set for her. Physically, she is right on the mark for her age.
One of the best ways to monitor an elephants health is by tracking their weight gain. The zoo has a built-in scale that elephants can step onto, where they monitor their weight weekly.
At birth Nandi weighed 245 lbs and now, at five years old, she weights 3, 350 lbs.
“She has progressed with her weight as a baby elephant should; she is right in line with other five year old elephant calves in the United States,” said Beck.
Beck said Nandi is unique because she is very independent, but this could prove an adjustment when she becomes a big sister.
Nandi’s mom, Semba, is expected to give birth to another baby elephant, due Spring 2020.
“She is just learning how to integrate with the herd and what that means for her in the future when she becomes a big sister will be special to watch,” said Beck.
Until then, this five-year-old gets to give the public an inside look at the life of a baby elephant.
If you want to celebrate Nandi’s upcoming birthday with her, the Reid Park Zoo is hosting her party Sunday, August 18 from 8:00 a.m. to noon. The public will sing “Happy Birthday” and there will be a cupcake giveaway for the first 100 people who attend the party starting at 8 a.m.
They will fill her habitat with her favorite toys and treats so her and the herd can enjoy the day. There will also be information booths and activities for the community.
“It’s going to be a really fun day for both elephants and people,” said Beck.
For more information about that upcoming birthday party, you can follow Reid Park Zoo on their Facebook page.
To read more about elephant Nandi, check out the Reid Park Zoo blog.