Elephant poet and emperor are introduced at Dublin Zoo

Kavi and Ashoka enjoy their breakfast in the company of adoring strangers

Over 100 people gathered at Dublin Zoo’s Kaziranga Trail this morning for the naming ceremony of two baby bulls born this summer. Video: Conor Pope

They say elephants never forget but the 100 or so people who gathered at Dublin Zoo’s Kaziranga Trail for the naming ceremony of two baby bulls born this summer are unlikely to forget the moment the dotey little beasts made their stumbling introductions either.

It is a wonder the calves didn’t bolt for the safety of the elephant house so loud were the oohs and ahhs which came from the adults and children alike as the pair - in the company of their mammy, daddy and extended family - came out for a breakfast of bamboo shoots and hay this morning.

The two bull calves dodged in and out of their mother’s legs and playfully fought each other for her attention and for the juiciest pieces of bamboo to a soundtrack of delighted squeals from little children, at least two of whom appeared to be mitching off school for the big event.

"The two little calves are getting on really really well," beamed the Zoo's operations manager and elephant keeper Gerry Creighton.


He described the summer births as a “huge development” for the Zoo and attributed the success of its breeding programme to the care and attention which is played to creating a world within the Zoo which is best suited to the animals who live here rather than the humans who come through the doors to look at them.

"Here elephants are allowed to be elephants. They behave and show the right attributes that elephants should without human interference Everything is done on their terms," Mr Creighton.

Once the babies were born, the Natural Confectionary Company - which sponsors the Kaziranga Forest Trail - organised a naming competition and the winners were on hand this morning to make the announcement ahead of the babies making their official debut before the cameras.

Sally Cullen won the naming rights to the first bull, born in July, after she came up with the name Kavi, an Indian word which means poet or wise man. Katie Bushe, meanwhile, was behind the slightly younger bull's name. He is to be called Ashoka, after one of India's greatest emperors. Both names will now be registered with the International Studbook keepers

“It is hugely important that they have a very strong and really good name,” Mr Creighton said, not least because they will have them for the up to 70 years.

After their breakfast and the naming ceremony Kavi and Ashoka pottered about on the sandy mounds outside the elephant house utterly oblivious to the little creatures who were marvelling at their cuteness nearby.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor